UK retailers Waitrose and Asda have said that while in the short-term UK consumers are cutting back spending, a full-scale recession is not necessarily on the horizon.
“I don’t think we are going into a recession, but this is going to be a prolonged period of belt-tightening,” Asda chief executive Andy Bond said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
Asda told just-food today (2 May) that it believes it is well positioned to take advantage of the downturn in consumer spending.
“In times of belt-tightening value focused retailers like Asda are in a good position to give people what they want,” a spokesperson for Wal-Mart’s UK business said.
While the company said that there are no specific statistics to demonstrate the gains it stands to make, it did suggest that consumers were increasingly turning towards its own brand products.
“Anecdotally, our Extra Special range is our fastest growing brand and it could be said that this is because people are deciding to stay in and treat themselves rather than going to restaurants,” the spokesperson told just-food.
Meanwhile, Waitrose managing director Mark Price separately downplayed fears of a recession.
“I think talking about a recession is hysterical. At Waitrose, I am not seeing any discernible drop in people wanting to eat good food,” he said talking at the Real Food Festival.
Price also said that while UK food price inflation is running at 4-5% in real terms across all categories, it will fall to zero or even into negative territory later this year.
“Wheat, peas, meat, potatoes and dairy went up in the summer of last year. There is no reason why it should keep going up and it will equalise over the course of the year and get better from the autumn,” said Price.