Cost-of-living crisis inflation

Customers have started to cap their basket spend at £30 in response to the cost-of-living crisis, independent retailers have claimed. 

The news came in the same week Asda boss Stuart Rose revealed shoppers were ditching items at the supermarket checkout when the total hit £30. 

“We’re seeing a massive change in behaviour,” he told the BBC. “People are trading back. They are worried about spending, and they’ve got a limit.” 

Asif Akhtar, of Premier Smeaton in Kirkcaldy, Fife, told betterRetailing he had also seen a shift in customer buying habits in response to ongoing price increases, driven by inflation

“Many of our customers use pay-as-you-go for utilities,” he said. “But with the price skyrocketing, they are now prioritising gas and electricity first, and using any leftover money for groceries

“Most of them are also capping their weekly shop between £25 to £30.” 

Akhtar added he has seen a rise in customers using a calculator on the spot when adding items to their baskets. 

“People used to know their spend, but with prices rising, even on price-marked-packs, I am seeing people calculate as they shop,” he said. 

Mo Razzaq, owner of Premier Mo’s in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, has created a bay for value items to help customers with budgeting in store. “We’ve dedicated six shelves to own label so it’s clear for shoppers,” he said. 

He noted that if shoppers overspent by under a £1 and needed to put items back, staff were under instruction to put the shop through the till. “If it’s a genuine miscalculation because prices have gone up, and a person isn’t doing it persistently, we’ve considered the embarrassment factor of putting shopping back and let it go,” he said. 

Earlier this month, inflation rose once again to a record level, and new data from Kantar predicted the average annual grocery bill is set to rise by £380, £100 more than what was originally expected. 

According to its most recent report, like-for-like food prices rose by 8.3% in the past month – their highest since April 2009. 

Head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “The inflation number makes for difficult reading and shoppers will be watching budgets closely as the cost-of-living crisis takes its toll,” he said. 

“Analysis shows that consumers are taking steps to manage the impact of rising prices at the till. 

“Shoppers have swapped branded items, which have declined by 1% for own-label products. Sales of these lines, which are often cheaper, have risen by 2.9%.” 

Suppliers are also feeling the pinch, with premium frozen meal supplier Cook last week announcing it is to cut retailer margins by 1.85% from 18 July, following a recent 5% retail price rise to offset costs. 

Read more cost-of-living crisis news and advice for retailers