Suffolk shopowners feel pinch as prices rise at fastest rate since 2011
- Credit: CHERRY BEESLEY/SIMPLY C PHOTOGRAPHY/TWO MAGPIES/THURSTON BUTCHERS
Prices in stores are rising at the fastest rate since 2011, as shopowners in Suffolk report they're feeling the pinch.
Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers across the county estimate their costs have risen by around 15% and, they say, some of that rises will have to be passed on to shoppers.
According to the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index – a leading measure of how fast the price of a typical basket of shopping is rising – annual inflation accelerated to 2.1% in March, up from 1.8% in February. This is the highest rate in more than a decade.
Food inflation jumped to 3.3% – its highest rate since March 2013 – while non-food inflation reached 1.5% in March, up from 1.3% in February and its top rate since February 2011.
Consumers have seen their fifth consecutive month of rising prices amid mounting cost pressures throughout the supply chain, including rising wages, input costs, global commodity prices, energy and transport.
Steve Magnall, co-owner of Two Magpies Bakery which has stores across the county, said: "We're working hard for nothing.
"I've been in business for donkey's years and this is the trickiest environment I've ever seen.
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"When we last reviewed it our costs had risen by nearly 10%. I've not looked at utilities yet so it's probably anything up to 15%.
"Food industries normally make a single-figure percentage margin – so you've just wiped that out."
Alastair Angus, boss of Thurston Butchers, said: "We're really starting to feel the pinch now.
"Prices have been going up slowly over the last six months and we're really starting to feel the pinch."
Mr Angus said the price rises were being driven by a range of factors including Covid and the war in Ukraine but, he added: "We've obviously got bird flu locally and I think that's putting pressure on the poultry industry."
He said the business was doing its best to absorb the costs, but some prices will have to rise for customers.
"We run a business, not a charity. We have to make those margins in order to pay our team and to pay for everything else," he said.
"Basically everything's going to have to go up between five and 15 per cent. There's no way it can't."
Bosses at Cosy Aromas, an Ipswich-based scented candle manufacturer, said they had seen the cost of wax, fragrance oil and packaging rise.
Director Paul Mayne said: "With the ongoing events around the world, it comes as no surprise that our suppliers have increased the costs of their products. As it stands, their prices have risen on average between 15% to 20% over the last two months.
“No business wants to pass on extra prices to the consumer, especially here at Cosy Aromas where we are lucky to have such a strong and passionate community of customers supporting us.
“We have not increased the prices of any of our products, however, we regrettably cannot rule this out should supply costs continue to rise.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “By keeping the prices of key items down and expanding value ranges, retailers are trying to support customers most affected by the cost-of-living squeeze, many of whom will face higher energy prices and national insurance contributions from 1 April.
“With overall inflation likely to rise even higher according to the Bank of England, consumers will not have an easy ride this year. The war in Ukraine, and volatility in commodity markets is likely to further dampen consumer confidence in the coming months.”
Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: “With cost-of-living increases accelerating, the next few months will be a difficult time for consumers.
“Rising food prices will start to impact what’s put in the shopping basket so supermarkets will need to adapt ranges to help shoppers manage what they spend on their weekly groceries.”