Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Tesco CEO Says Shoppers Are ‘Terrified’ of Inflation

A customer pushes a cart to the parking area at a supermarket operated by The Warehouse Group Ltd. in Wellington, New Zealand, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. New Zealand declared a state of national emergency, giving the government additional powers to enforce a nationwide lockdown initially in force for four weeks, that will see all schools and non-essential businesses close. Supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open, though many are required to limit customers to one at a time. Photographer: Birgit Krippner/Bloomberg

More than 75% of people are “terrified” of the effect the cost-of-living crisis will have on their families, according to the head of Britain’s largest supermarket. 

Tesco Plc Chief Executive Officer Ken Murphy said the grocer has done a lot of research about how people are feeling right now as they battle the worst inflation to hit Britain in 40 years — “and this is the word they use – ‘terrified’.”

“We’re on the front line talking to customers every day and we can see and feel the pressure on the family budget,” said Murphy, speaking at a summit of the Consumer Goods Forum in Dublin on Thursday.  “So I can’t overstate the mood of the people in all our markets.”

Signs of consumer stress are particularly evident in the UK, he said, but are also present in Ireland and in central Europe where inflation has hit an all-time high.

Murphy’s remarks follow those made by Tesco Chairman John Allan in May when he warned that Britain was on the cusp of “real food poverty for the first time in a generation.”

Tesco said last week that shoppers are buying fewer items and beginning to switch to cheaper store-brand versions of staples, such as bread, pasta and beans, as they try to cut costs amid surging food, electricity and fuel prices.

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