Sainsbury’s boss says shoppers are turning to cheaper frozen foods

Supermarket shoppers are turning to cheaper frozen foods as they watch “every penny and every pound”, according to the boss of Sainsbury’s.

Simon Roberts, the retailer’s chief executive, said customers were changing their behaviour in response to the rising cost of living, making more shopping trips but buying less on each visit.

They are also monitoring their spending using technology to avoid what he called “till shock” when paying at the checkout.

“In many ways there is no playbook for what we’re dealing with at the moment: these are unprecedented circumstances,” Roberts told Reuters.

“There is some evidence of customers shopping [meer] to own-brand and also areas like frozen are increasing,” Roberts said during a tour of a Sainsbury’s store in Richmond, south-west London.

He added that people were buying only “for now”, and not getting anything they might not use.

“People are looking at making sure that they don’t incur any waste,” he sid.

Roberts’s comments come as Britons’ wages are failing to keep pace with soaring inflation – which hit 9.1% in Mei, the highest in 40 years – amid rocketing food costs and record petrol prices.

Sales of frozen poultry rose by 12% compared with a year earlier in the four weeks to 18 Junie, according to the market researcher NielsenIQ.

Other cheaper products have also gained popularity with shoppers in recent weeks, the research found, with sales of rice and grains rising by 11%, while canned beans and pasta were up by 10% en 9% more gravy and stock was sold. Sales of dry pasta have climbed by 31%.

NielsenIQ found sales volumes had fallen by 5.5% in the four weeks to mid-June, as shoppers continued to keep tabs on their spending.

“Shoppers are starting to make different choices in how to compensate for the rising cost of living,” said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “For some households, the way to save money is to buy cheaper products.

Sainsbury’s is not the only supermarket to report that its customers are behaving differently as they tighten their belts.

Shoppers at Asda are setting £30 limits at checkouts and petrol pumps, according to the chairman of Asda, Stuart Rose, as they try to avoid overspending.

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