LONDON – British supermarket Sainsbury’s said on Monday it was stepping up its efforts to keep a lid on prices and it would spend 500 million pounds ($631.4 million) over the two years to March 2023 to keep down the cost of core goods.
Surging prices are causing the biggest squeeze on household incomes since at least the 1950s in Britain, where grocery price inflation hit 7% over the four weeks to May 15, its highest level in 13 years, according to industry data.
Last week, finance minister Rishi Sunak announced a latest round of support for households hit by surging energy bills.
Supermarket groups typically try to keep down the prices of so-called known-value items, which are familiar to shoppers, while pushing up other prices.
“Our commitment to saving money and reinvesting where it can make the biggest difference to customers means we are now able to commit a total of over 500 million pounds to lower prices and help customers manage inflation,” said Sainsbury’s.
The amount includes investment in prices during the last financial year plus money that will be committed this financial year to March 2023.
Sainsbury’s said its investment was focused on items such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and key household essentials.
“We are relentlessly focused on driving savings that can be reinvested into keeping food prices low,” chief executive Simon Roberts said.
Sainsbury’s says it is keeping its prices increases lower than those of its major peers while winning market share on a volume basis. However, on a sales value basis, monthly industry data has shown Sainsbury’s losing market share.
Last month, market leader Tesco and Sainsbury’s both warned of lower profit this year.
($1 = 0.7920 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by William Schomberg)