The boss of Sainsbury’s has said the grocery chain will continue to pump funds into offsetting rising costs over the rest of the year as shoppers become “increasingly concerned” about their finances.
The UK’s second largest supermarket chain said it will invest more than £500 million into lower pricing by March 2023 as part of a long-term plan focused on value.
It comes amid a surge in inflation, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that food inflation grew by 6.8% last month, on the back of sharp increases for meat and dairy products.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said the supermarket has had to pass on some increases in the price of essential products, such as milk, but stressed that it has invested money to ensure smaller rises than rivals.
“We have a really important relationship with our suppliers and will work with them when the cost of food production is going up and impacting upon farmers,” he said.
“Increases in price are at the front of customers’ minds because they are everywhere, so we are ensuring we limit those and, when we have to make increases, offer better value than the rest of the market.
“Customers are making choices about where they spend money based on their household finances right now so we have to make it easy for them to manage their budget in our shops.
“They are increasingly concerned about their spending and we want them to know we recognise that and are doing everything we can.”
Sainsbury’s said price investment will be focused on essential items, such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, and key household products.
The pricing strategy includes its Price Lock campaign, which commits to holding the price of more than 1,800 items for at least eight weeks.
It is also continuing with its Aldi Price Match on a raft of products as its German discount rival reports increasing sales amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Roberts was optimistic that customers will splash out for the jubilee weekend with bumper celebrations.
He said: “People are still looking for occasions to celebrate despite the backdrop so we are hopeful that we will see plenty of these over the summer, plenty of big BBQs if the weather is good.”
Sainsbury’s commitment comes after Iceland supermarket chain managing director Richard Walker said some of Iceland’s customers are “disappearing into food banks”.
On Sunday, Mr Walker told Sophy Ridge on Sky News that cashiers at the supermarket have been asked by some shoppers to alert them when the price of their shopping hits £40 so they can abandon the rest of their items at the checkout.