In 2022 will be remembered as the year that inflation skyrocketed, shooting up on the back of increased prices for food and energy. According to StatBel, inflation in Belgium was at 10.35% in December 2022. In addition, food inflation has also risen sharply in recent months. Food inflation (including alcoholic beverages) reached 14.53% this month. Chain stores are responding by creating innovative new promotions. For example, in the food and drink sector, supermarket chain Casino in France is offering to reimburse train tickets, while discount store Leader Price is offering credit vouchers to reimburse your three most recent subscriptions to sport-based TV channels or services.
Inflation is on the rise everywhere. We hit the road to find out what’s happening in other countries and see how they’re responding.
Developing a solitary supermarket chain in Sweden
In Sweden, inflation has seen a single, solitary supermarket chain emerge: Matmissionen. There, they collect the surplus and unsold items from large chains, selling them at low prices (roughly a third of the original prices) to the most economically disadvantaged members of the population. The chain has been extremely successful—its clientele doubled in 2022. In fact, everyone can do their shopping at Matmissionen, but only registered members whose daily revenue is less than 11,200 krona qualify for the lowest prices. With the situation as it is, the cooperative expects to expand, building new stores throughout the country. As such, Matmissionen has just signed agreements with the Swedish Food Retailers Federation and the Swedish Food Federation for producers and distributors of food products.
Launch of new chain Muji 500 in Japan, for very low prices
In Japan, the no-frills brand Muji has responded to the recent inflation by creating a specific chain: Muji 500 offers necessities for less than 500 yen (US $3.46). ‘Stock up on your day-to-day necessities at low prices’ could be the slogan of the new chain! Its range covers categories such as food, detergents, kitchen utensils, toiletries, skin-care products, paper and so forth. The first store, based in Tokyo, has around 3000 different items on the shelves. It also has a station where you can bring your empty water bottles to refill them for free.
0% VAT in Spain
In Spain, the government has decided to eliminate VAT on staple foods like bread, flour, milk, cheese, eggs, fruit, vegetables, legumes, potatoes and so forth. (In Belgium, VAT on basic necessities is set at 6%.) Other foods, like oil and pasta, benefit from VAT being reduced from 10% to 5%.
Three pay rises in the UK
In the UK, inflation reached close to 11% in 2022, the highest level in forty years. In response, the largest supermarket chains increased wages. Aldi has made the biggest leap. In January, Aldi will raise salaries for the third time in a year. This will result in a total salary increase of 15% in just twelve months. This comes at a cost: the company budget for wages has reached 81 million pounds (close to 94 million euro) for the year. However, Aldi has the distinction of having become the best paying supermarket chain in Great Britain.
A search engine for low-cost shopping routes in the United States
In the United States, the start-up Ziscuit has created a search engine that allows the most economically disadvantaged citizens to find necessities at the cheapest prices close to them. The idea is simple: after enrolling on the website or the Ziscuit mobile app, users can upload their shopping lists and instantly find the cheapest options based on their lists. As well as this, the search engine gives users an optimised route for doing their shopping in the least time with the most savings.