‘Butter has gone up by 40%, but it’s a little luxury I don’t want to give up’
I shop at Lidl and Asda and consider myself a savvy shopper on a budget, as I’m on minimum wage. Butter has gone up by 40%, but it a little luxury I do not want to give up. Meat has increased so much that I rarely buy it and make do with very cheap chicken or pork shoulder – lamb and beef joints are out of the question, so I use minced beef and burgers from Lidl. I have entirely changed the way we eat – we have soup a lot for our main meal, for example – and make do with less, or change meals to use jars of ready-made pasta sauce for 52p and cheap spaghetti for 20p at the end of the month. On the plus side, nothing is wasted and we are very inventive, but I have the time and skills at this time of my life, but I worry about the younger people who are time and skill short. We spend a lot on existing, so there is nothing left for anything nice.
Yvonne Bidwell, care worker, Swindon
‘I don’t know where 3% comes from – it feels more like 20%-30% here’
We generally make online Tesco orders with top-ups at Sainsbury’s and Aldi. We don’t eat meat but have noticed the cost of butter, milk and other dairy products is much higher than it was. Butter used to be around 80p-90p and is now as much as £1.40 for own-brand. A lot of stuff we buy online seems to be 50p more than it was, for example smoked mackerel, a multipack of beans, alcohol etc. We are lucky to be relatively high earners, however we are also freelance and a combination of redundancies, maternity leave and downtime between contracts means we are noticing the difference – and can imagine how much worse it is for neighbouring families.
We used to aim to feed four of us (including two kids) for £100 a week including booze and treats, now there’s no way we can get it that low. I don’t know where 3% comes from – it feels more like 20%-30% here.
Sarah, works in marketing, south London
‘The obvious knock-on effect is either cutting back where you can or increased debt ’
I shop in two main local supermarkets, Asda and Lidl, with occasional extra bits and bobs picked up from smaller retailers such as SuperValu. I have been watching the prices keenly for the last year and I would estimate that our weekly shop has increased by 30%. We could have managed a weekly shop at £60 or thereabouts – it is now easily coming in at £80 or above.
The obvious knock-on effect is either cutting back were you can, increased debt or taking up extra employment if possible. It increases stress and family rows and a general sense of disillusionment and a specific type of anger towards politicians of all hues that is hard to categorise or capture, and also to other groups in society. Donal O’Hagan, teacher, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland
‘A lot of products have shrunk in package content size or weight’
I predominantly do a weekly Saturday shop. Before the EU referendum I would say that my average weekly food shop that would keep us fed for a whole week, including children’s packed school lunches, and along with non-food items, was costing about £135. What I’ve noticed in the course of the last 15 months are three main things. Firstly, my typical weekly shop is now more like £150. Secondly, a lot of products have shrunk in package size or weight so although the prices haven’t increased the amount you get is less. Also, there are fewer offers. Stuart, Somerset
‘Price hikes are totally at odds with the prevailing atmosphere of stagnated wages’
I started to notice huge price increases in my online shopping last year. Take, for example, Tesco lamb chops. My receipt shows that in December 2016 they were £5 for a 550g pack. By March 2017 that had gone up to £5.50. By July 2017 it was £6 for 550g, so a 20% increase on the December price. As of the end of October 550g is £6.50. In nine months the price has gone up by 30%.
Other products that have gone up in corresponding ways include salmon, steak and butter. The price of farmed salmon has gone up from £3.50 for two fillets in December 2016 to £4.25.
My wages have been the same for years now, so I’ve had to make some changes in order to maintain a decent standard of groceries in our home. I buy far less meat, and I’ve virtually stopped buying alcohol, as it is not essential. The price hikes are brazen and unprecedented, and totally at odds with the prevailing atmosphere of stagnated wages and austerity that dominates the life of the average shopper.
‘The number of tomatoes you get seems to have halved’
I shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda mainly, sometimes Lidl or Aldi. Things that used to be on offer for £1 are now on special offer for £1.20. Sizes are shrinking, yet the price remains the same – I could buy Tesco’s baby plum tomatoes for £1.50 two years ago and they’d serve me all week for salads and sandwiches. Now, the number of tomatoes you get seems to have halved, meaning I have to buy two packs for £3. Many items that used to be part of “three for £10” deals no longer are. All in all my average shop has gone from £100 to £130 – even though I’m buying the same items. It does mean I have less money for entertainment. I’ve started walking to and from work, 40 minutes each way, rather than take the bus, to save money each month.
Shaun, civil servant, Nottingham
‘Price increases are sneaky, they try to trick you’
Things have gone up in jumps. The worst were sweet manufacturers this year. Many items containing chocolate are suddenly lighter, such as Toblerone. Many packaged items that previously sold for £1 are now 5%-15% more. Price increases are sneaky, they try to trick you out of noticing them. I check sizes carefully. Tea has rocketed, with few offers now. Cereals have edged up, some quite dramatically. Fruit and veg don’t seem to have gone up, which is good for me as I’m a veggie, but prepared ready veggie meals are up about 10% these last few months.
I cook more now and am very conscious as to what each main meal costs: usually under £1 if possible, helped by being veggie and not being too fussy – I like simple cooking and I don’t drink either.
Christian Anderson, casual council worker nearing retirement, Dumfries and Galloway