Supermarkets urged to pass on savings from withdrawn multi-buy promotions as sales rocket
AS major supermarkets post a staggering 20.6 per cent rise in sales over the last four weeks, there have been calls for them to pass on savings from withdrawn multi-buy promotions.
March was the busiest month on record for the large chains and Tesco has ramped up its home delivery and Click & Collect services after a surge in demand in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The supermarket giant has increased its delivery and collection capacity across the UK to around 780,000 slots this week - up from 660,000 - with plans to increase by a further 100,000 in the coming weeks and add more than 200 new vans and another 2,500 drivers
Dave Lewis, Tesco chief executive, said they are seeing "unprecedented levels of demand for grocery shopping services".
"We're doing everything we can to increase the number of slots available and to support vulnerable people.
"... We'll expand the number of slots available each week; but this still isn't enough to meet the demand... It is vital that customers who can come into stores and shop for themselves do so - so we can free up as many slots as possible for vulnerable people."
However, the chain has been criticised for not passing on to customers the savings it has made from its decision to end multipack and multi-buy offers.
The measure was taken to combat stockpiling and keep food on shelves for all customers, along with other measures including limiting shoppers to only 80 items per online order.
However, by simply reverting to pre-offer prices, it has adding costs on shopping bills at a time when households are under financial pressure as lockdown restrictions see businesses closing or laying off staff and reducing wages.
John French, Consumer Council chief executive, said while it "recognises their efforts" to discourage stockpiling and ensure all consumers can access essential goods "if supermarkets remove multi-buy offers, we hope that they do the right thing and continue to pass on savings by reducing prices".
"This is especially relevant in Northern Ireland where the average weekly discretionary income is £100 lower than the rest of the UK.
Green Party deputy leader Mal O'Hara called on people to "support local and independent retailers who are going above and beyond to ensure that they provide services to people... (but) are less able to absorb the economic shock of the pandemic than the bigger retailers".
"Stay local and shop local where you can."
Sainsbury's has not done multipack/multi-buy offers for several years.
* Consumer Council dedicated Coronavirus webpage provides up-to-date advice on supermarkets and retailers and other topics including energy suppliers, air travel, food safety, public transport and personal finances - consumercouncil.org.uk/coronavirus