It’s a difficult time for the Norwegian grocery sector, and the four largest chains are vying for public loyalty by focusing on customer care improvements. Nevertheless, they are largely reluctant to make long term price promises in light of the 1 July watershed for the VAT reductions on food items.

Many chains are concerned that their margins will be squeezed if suppliers refuse to keep prices steady befroe and after July.

“We can’t say all prices will stay the same,” said a spokesman for the Norgesgruppen group, which operates the Kiwi, Meny, Spar and Nærmat chains.

Per Roskifte stressed to the Aftenposten newspaper that the copany is trying to ensure that customers receive the full benefits of the reduction in VAT.

“We have told our suppliers that we don’t want any hikes before or after 1 July to avoid corruption of the cost structure. Otherwise we’d get the blame for any increases,” he added.