Four months after the Brexit vote, speculation is rife that higher prices could reverse the recent trend for premium chocolate as consumers look to save cash.
A report released by Euromonitor last month found that a “disorderly Brexit” was reducing confectionery consumption, and shoppers are expected to purchase 300g less confectionery by 2020.
Joana Kripaityte of Plymouth City Centre Spar told Retail Express she was expecting people to trade down as the cost of inflation hits confectionery prices. “The premium market will suffer most. People will trade down to cheaper, more affordable products as prices rise,” she said.
Peter Lamb of Lamb’s Larder in East Sussex said he had already seen a trend towards cheaper confectionery since the Brexit vote, but added that the premium chocolate market might be more resilient – at least in the short term. “Premium consumers are less cost conscious," he said.
However, he added that the terms of the Brexit deal could turn that theory on its head. He said: “If we have a ‘hard’ Brexit and leave the single market, the entire economy will suffer.”
Retailers said it would be impossible to absorb any price rises as a result of Brexit. “We try to make a 35% margin and, unfortunately, as a new business, we just aren’t able to absorb the difference,” said Kripaityte.
Lamb added: “The pound has lost 19% of its value since June, meaning things cost 19% more. There’ll be a lag as businesses try to keep costs down for consumers, but we’re already operating on a shoestring and someone has got to cover the shortfall. Unfortunately, that means the consumer.”