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Friday, 5 November 2010

Supermarkets Not Feeling the Pinch as Consumers are Punished by Government VAT Increase

Supermarkets Not Feeling the Pinch as Consumers are Punished

The distorted state of the modern British economy has been illustrated by the news that food prices climbed at their fastest rate for 15 months in October — while the big supermarket chains continued to show massive profits in the millions, and in Tesco’s case, more than a billion.
At the same time, British consumers face record unemployment rates, pay freezes, rising utility costs, cuts to services and tax increases.
According to the British Retail Consortium-Nielsen Shop Price Index, food prices rose by 4.4 percent in October, up from 4.0 percent in September. Last month’s rise was the highest annual increase since June of last year. 
Non-food items rose by 1.1 percent because of the increase in VAT during the year and the overall inflation rate for goods in shops increased by 2.2 percent.
In addition, the price of petrol has increased steeply, and Britain’s second biggest energy supplier, SSE, has announced that gas tariffs will increase by just under ten percent as from the beginning of December.
The misery to which consumers are being subjected is not however reflected in the ever-increasing profit margins of the ‘big four’ supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
Morrisons has just announced a “modest” 14 percent rise in underlying profits for the six months to the beginning of August, taking their profit to a cool £410 million.
Sainsbury’s is set to clock up a £660 million profit by the financial year-end, while Asda’s profits last year rose 53 percent to £798 million, and their figures are set to be even better this year.
Tesco however remains the king of profits. Figures show that for the six months to the end of August, that company’s profits rose 12.5 percent to stand at £1.6 billion.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents these major supermarkets, tried to cover up their obvious rampant greed which is the primary cause of the food inflation rate by actually claiming they were “protecting” consumers.
In an astonishing display of Orwellian doublespeak, the BRC said in an official statement that its members are “protecting customers against the worst effects of price rises in basics such as wheat, meat and cotton.”
According to the BRC, wheat is up by 47 percent in a year, corn by 61 percent, beef by 17 percent and pork by 16 percent.
While this might indeed by the case — and the endless causes of such increases would warrant a separate study of its own — the reality is that the supermarkets are not “protecting” the consumers but obviously passing them on.
This then, is the cause of the food price hikes and the increasing supermarket profit levels, and it is insulting to consumers for the BRC to pretend otherwise.
The BNP has no problem with private enterprise delivering healthy profits. This is the dynamo upon which job creation and true national wealth depends.
However, with a government that is determined to financially break this country and its people through “spending reviews,” bailouts to banksters, foreign aid, immigration, EU membership and a host of other disasters, it might be prudent of major companies to reign in or at least stabilise their profit margins in the long term interests of their customer base.