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UK grocery inflation at 14-month high as snacks see price hike

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·2-min read
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Convention-goers check out a fixture display set up by Display Source Alliance on opening day of the Sweets & Snacks Expo on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Sweets And Snacks Convention At The Indiana Convention Center In Indianapolis First Since Covid 19 Pandemic Wednesday June 23 2021 (Photo by Jenna Watson/IndyStar/USA Today Network/Sipa USA)
Snack, crisps and canned drinks were among the products whose prices rose fastest in October. Photo by Jenna Watson/IndyStar/USA Today Network/Sipa USA

Prices in UK supermarkets surged at the most rapid pace in more than a year in October, as supply chain disruption and the HGV driver shortage roiled supply.

According to a new survey by Kantar, like-for-like grocery inflation hit 2.1% in October, the highest level since August 2020. 

Crisps, canned drinks and savoury snacks were among the products whose prices rose fastest. 

The data comes only days after the Bank of England warned that UK inflation could head to its highest level in 10 years, as it said it would hold its baseline bank interest rate at record lows until the picture of the UK's economic recovery became clearer. 

"As prices increase in certain categories, we can expect shoppers to continue to visit several supermarkets and shop around to find the best deals," said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

Watch: What is inflation and why is it important?

Read more: UK consumer demand returns to form ahead of Christmas

The news also came as Kantar said take-home grocery sales in the UK fell by 1.9% over the 12 weeks to 31 October 2021. Although in decline compared with the same 12 weeks in 2020, sales are still 7.3% higher than in 2019.

Grocers have turned to price hikes in order to offset the mounting costs of transport, fuel, energy, stock and wages, as the cost of living also rises. 

Kantar announced that, despite price inflation, shopping habits are beginning to settle at a new baseline as people adapted their lifestyles through the pandemic. 

The general trend towards bigger, less frequent trips to the supermarket seems set to stay. Households visited the supermarket 15.7 times in the past month on average. That’s a slight increase from the 15.3 trips we saw at this time in 2020, but consumers are still making 40 million fewer trips per month than they were in 2019. 

At this rate of change, it would take three years to get back to old shopping patterns.

Online sales have also levelled out. For the second month in a row, digital sales accounted for 12.4% of the total grocery market. A fifth of households consistently order groceries online each month, becoming long term converts.

Watch: How to save money on a low income

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