Friday, 12 September 2014
46 Days To Go
We have been hearing for some time now about how supermarkets will have to increase the cost of our weekly messages in the event of a Yes vote.
We have been told that the cost of distribution to stores will increase, the cost of setting up a new company in a foreign country, the cost should there be a completely different currency.
It has been reported that the PM David Cameron has had 1-2-1 chats with executives of the leading supermarkets in Downing Street, regarding the implications of independence and urging them to support the union.
Robert Peston (British economist) tweeted that David Cameron "met supermarket bosses at No.10 this afternoon and urged them to go public on how prices would rise in and independent Scotland."
This is the very same Prime Minister who repeatedly states that he is not getting involved with the referendum as it is a matter for the Scots.
Asda and John Lewis (owners of Waitrose) has came out to say that prices may increase, as any extra costs incurred dealing with iScotland would have to be passed onto the consumer. Since his chat with Dave, Asda CEO Andy Clarke said: "If we were no longer to operate in one state with one market and - broadly - one set of rules, our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate here.
"This is not an argument for or against independence, it is simply an honest recognition of the costs that change could bring. For us the customer is always right and this important decision is in their hands." When only last week Asda were saying that they had no plans to raise prices in iScotland.
John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield warned ""From a business perspective there will be economic consequences to a Yes vote, not just in uncertainty but some of the turmoil we are hearing about.
"And it is also the case that it does cost more money to trade in parts of Scotland and therefore those hard costs, in the event of a Yes vote, are more likely to be passed on."
Meanwhile Tesco and Morrisons have actually said the opposite. In the Huffington Post, it reported that Morrisons have said it was "wrong" to say they were planning to hike food prices, with a spokesman telling Newsnet Scotland: "If an independent Scotland increased or decreased regulation or taxes we'd have to take a second look at our pricing. Clearly that could work for or against Scottish customers depending on the direction of travel."
When contacted by a member of the public (and then published on Face Book), a Morrisons representative is reported as saying:
"Thank you for contacting us regarding the leaflet you received. We have received similar enquiries regarding this articular correspondence from one of the campaigns in the Scottish Referendum. As a company Morrisons have a thriving and loyal customer base and we work to try and keep those customers satisfied. We base our pricing on the retail MARKET and not on political decisions. We strive to offer customers in Scotland the best service we can.
As far as we are aware the increased cost in Ireland is due to a number of factors, the major one being the higher cost of distribution. Morrisons currently have in place a full distribution network within the current UK which would remain in place in the event of a Yes Vote. The only way we could envisage an increased cost for Scotland is if the Scottish Government were to push Scotland's land mass away from the rest of the UK and into the North Sea."
And Tesco had this to say
As for the photo at the top of the post, taken from the BT Facebook page - who does their maths?
Edited to insert this photo, taken from twitter 13.09.14
A great article in Business for Scotland reports on the particulars of retailing currently and in the event of a Yes vote and gives a very clear argument as to why the argument against independence in terms of your grocery shopping, is flawed. For example, with new taxation rates in iScotland, prices may actually fall.
From a personal perspective, as a supermarket employee, prices fluctuate constantly. They have been creeping up for a long time, until very recently when Aldi came to town. Good food and great prices - even with my 10% staff discount, I still get the vast majority of my groceries in Aldi, topping it up with the heavily discounted weekly deals in the big supermarket. Perhaps if supermarket workers were paid more than just above the Nat Min Wage, we wouldn't mind paying a bit extra for food.
I used to enjoy a local veg box scheme and meat ( and soaps and cheese and jams etc) from the farmers market, but these are luxuries I can no longer afford as a way to shop. My internal moral compass is in constant motion between budget and green credentials of where my food comes from and how it comes to be. As such we don't eat a lot of meat, but when we do it is of the highest quality and welfare I can get, I try to buy Scottish or British food, and produce that is in season (I do not buy strawberries grown in Egypt in December for instance), but that is my choice. I would love to be able to have a box scheme again, use the local grocer for all meats foods, and have my milk delivered by the local dairy, but it is not viable - especially with the amount of milk we get through each day.
The Common Weal has a plan for a better future, that combines all elements of supermarkets, local co-ops, food banks and local economy, which totally resonates with me, and is the perfect way to balance the situation (from my point of view). The full details can be found here.
At the end of the day, if Aldi and Lidl (both German companies, trading in the UK and throughout Europe) can have lower food prices and the big four are in competition for the cosumer pound, why should our vote be held to ransom? Yes, prices might go up initially, but all it will take it for one of them to say, "I'm taking customer turnover and loyalty over profit" (ie increasing market share), and then the price war starts all over again, as none of these companies want to lose customers or any more profit than they need to.