New year, new figures. 2023 has started with a wage increase that the Dutch labor market had not witnessed since 2008. This comes as a more than welcomed development since, despite the steady easing of inflation, an essential part of living has not been included: groceries.
According to CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands), the price of food continues to rise, challenging the country-wide trend of lowering general inflation. The seemingly unstoppable increases to the price tags in supermarkets worry families and vulnerable sectors of the population.
Students are no exception. “I already work 3 days a week, but I have my studies to worry about too. I try to be smart when shopping but it’s like, it’s not enough,” says Stijn, a 23 year old student living in Groningen.
Forgetting to scan items?
Joining a risky growing trend, Stijn is also forgetting to scan items, from his shopping basket. Most supermarkets, like Jumbo or Albert Heijn, employ self-scanners for a larger part of their sales. Which causes a ‘temptation’ for many students who are struggling to pay for their groceries.
“Can we talk about the price of blueberries?” Lena is yet another forgetful shopper who finds life in Groningen compared to her hometown in Germany, a challenge to keep a healthy lifestyle. For others like Marloes, a mother of three, groceries have become “tricky” and while she celebrates the increase of her pay role, her purchasing power remains limited.
Worsening economic conditions
Since the start of the war in Ukraine almost a year ago, the price of living has risen. Mostly due to the increases in costs on many products and necessities of everyday life, such as gas, petrol and wheat. Governmental initiatives such as gas bill subsidies or raising rates since last month aim to take some of the financial burden off the citizen’s shoulders. But for now, these efforts appear to be of little help when it comes to buying breakfast.
“Every week we get a pile of new price tags, most are becoming more expensive.” Says Paul. He’s been an employee at Lidl for many years and witnesses the staggering increases on a routine basis. He also encounters many cases of shoplifting, especially since self-checkouts were installed in his store. “One time a person was standing right next to me and was grabbing a lot of big size meat packages. In total, he had around 100 euros worth of meat in his bag,” Paul says.
Purchasing power on the mend
The report published on CBS on inflation rate and consumer prices is labelled as a ‘flash estimate’ by the bureau themselves and further reports will be published in the days to come. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be optimistic about the purchasing power. Economists argue that the slowing down of inflation rates on many sectors is likely to positively impact price tags at grocery stores, slowly bringing them back down. Another question is whether the growing trend of shopping amnesia will continue after this.