Supermarkets are not taking advantage of the extraordinary rise in food prices, as the new president of the Asedas employers’ association, which groups Mercadona, Dia or Consum, assured this Wednesday. “Businessmen have been unfairly treated: they have gone from heroes during the pandemic to being villains due to inflation,” said the former president of Unió, who considers that there is no “economic basis” for criticism.
“Despite the fact that sometimes the opposite is said, the sector has acted as a containment dam against the rise in prices due to the high level of competition,” he stated during the presentation of a report on local food distribution. In the same sense, the Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, has expressed herself: “In no case can distribution be blamed, which is key to containing prices, but which is not responsible for the current situation.”
The rise in food prices has been fueling the debate for months about whether supermarkets have taken advantage of the increases, as they affirm above all from Podemos. In recent weeks, the CPI has been easing, including that of groceries, which moderated in May for the third consecutive month (something that had not happened for more than two years). Thus, food prices have slowed down to 12% annually, but continue to grow at double digits. In this sense, the Secretary of State recalled the measures that the Government has taken to help reduce the impact on households, such as the reduction in VAT on some products and the 200-euro check for the most vulnerable families.
“This sector contributes wealth in economic terms and has a strong social commitment, as was evident especially during the pandemic, but also in the current situation of cost crisis”, added Duran Lleida. According to the Asedas report, prepared together with the Retail Data firm, the total investment in openings and renovations of food stores totaled between 1,300 and 1,400 million euros last year.
Regarding openings, local food distribution grew at a slower pace in 2022, with 878 new stores in Spain, 18% less than “an unusual” 2021, but above 2020. In total, the number of supermarkets amounts to 25,170, while at the end of 2022 the figure was 24,501. The sector expects to continue this trend during 2023, with some 780 new establishments by the end of the year.
The report includes data on profitability and employment, but corresponding to 2021. “The average profitability of the sector is between 2% and 3%, with data from 2021, because it is the only year possible to carry out a serious analysis”, has explained Juan Carlos Matarrubia, Retail Data researcher. Most of the companies in the sector have not yet deposited the 2022 accounts in the Mercantile Registry. “And the only ones that have done so have lowered margins,” he pointed out. Regarding employment, the sector employed 465,000 people.
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