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The supermarkets in Spain that have put prices up the most

The Local Spain
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The supermarkets in Spain that have put prices up the most
Spain's main consumer watchdog estimates that food prices have gone up 38 percent in recent years. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP.

Findings from Spain's main consumer watchdog have revealed which Spanish supermarket chains are most guilty of price gouging in recent years.

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Anyone who lives in Spain has probably noticed supermarket prices going up. Whether it be basics like bread, milk and eggs, or staples of Spanish cuisine like olive oil (which is, counterintuitively, more expensive in Spain than elsewhere despite Spain producing around half of the world's supply) filling your shopping basket in Spanish supermarkets has become a lot more expensive in recent years.

In fact, La Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), Spain’s main consumer watchdog, estimates that food prices have risen by an eye-watering 38 percent in 3 years alone. This is despite the Spanish government repeatedly intervening to cut or eliminate entirely VAT on foodstuffs over the last few years, something that now seems it could end this summer.

READ ALSO: The foods that will increase in price in Spain in July 2024

Spain’s national statistics body, INE, forecasts that the CPI will have risen by 32.1 percent between 2020 and 2024, meaning that the cost of living has gone up across the board. However, for many Spaniards, these changes have been most noticeable at the supermarket and what used to be staple foods have become luxuries, and what were once luxuries are now unaffordable.

Take for example the price of olive oil, which increased by 225 percent between 2020-2023, according to the OCU, going from an average of €2.35 per litre to €7.66. Sugar has risen by 91 percent, and a dozen eggs is on average 67 percent more expensive than it was in 2020.

These sorts of price rises are reflected across the country and across supermarket chains. However, that’s not to say that some supermarkets aren’t slightly cheaper, or that some chains aren't more guilty of price gouging than others.

The supermarkets in Spain that have put their prices up the most

The OCU studied prices at seven supermarket chains, with rises ranging between 32 percent and over 40 percent on average.

According to the OCU findings, Carrefour was the chain to put up prices the most, by 45 percent, followed by Alcampo (43 percent); El Corte Inglés (37 percent); Mercadona (38 percent); Eroski (34 percent); Condis (32 percent); and finally Día (32 percent).

As you may have noticed from the results, those supermarkets that most put up their prices (in particular El Corte Inglés and Mercadona, for example) were already some of the pricer chains, comparatively speaking, and the cheaper chains (Eroski, Día) generally put up their prices less.

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That is to say, these findings don’t fundamentally change the supermarket shopping landscape in Spain: cheaper supermarkets are still cheap, relatively speaking, and the more traditionally expensive chains remain the most expensive, despite supermarkets putting up prices across the board on average.

"All the chains have followed a similar trend… As a result, their relative positions have hardly changed over the last three years. The cheap ones are still cheap and the expensive ones are still expensive, with one exception: Carrefour has gone from being one of the cheapest establishments to being the second most expensive, only behind El Corte Inglés,” the OCU said.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: Is alcohol still cheap in Spain?

In terms of how these increases translate into euros, the OCU uses two examples to give us a better idea of how these percentages actually affect consumers' pockets. At Alcampo, for example, shopping that cost €248 in 2020 was around €355 by the end of 2023, a €107 increase. At Carrefour, the increase was €122 on average.

Of the government’s VAT cuts on foods, the OCU was sceptical of the broader impact of the measure, welcome though it was. Comparing prices one year before and after the cut, which came into effect in January 2023, the OCU said “where the tax cut has been most noticeable is in flour, pasta, rice and some dairy products.”

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“In the remaining foodstuffs, the reduction isn’t noticeable because other factors such as poor harvests, production costs or geopolitical tensions have a greater impact.”

“All vegetables have risen except potatoes… eggs were already more expensive three months after the VAT reduction.”

“In June, when normal VAT returns, prices will rise again,” the watchdog said.

The Spanish government has hinted that it would like to extend the VAT cut on foodstuffs beyond June 30th, though no decision has been made.

READ ALSO: Why do so many Spaniards want to work for Mercadona supermarket?

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Ben 2024/06/20 14:56
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