Belfast Telegraph

Supermarkets suffer as petrol prices soar

By Jamie Grierson

Soaring petrol prices are encouraging more consumers to turn their backs on supermarkets and shop more locally.

Supermarkets saw sales volumes decline by 3.1% over the year to March while specialised stores, which include traditional butchers, bakers and fishmongers, increased by 0.4%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Corner shops and other small, non-specialised food stores, also saw sales volumes increase by 12.3%.

The figures suggest consumers are shopping more locally, according to the ONS, and come as research revealed average UK pump prices are now at record highs of 135.79p a litre for petrol and 141.99p for diesel. Sarah Peters, senior analyst at Verdict, said: "Larger stores, particularly those that require travelling to in a car or making a specific journey to visit, will be hit harder as high petrol prices make customers review if they actually need to travel."

The research also follows annual results from Tesco, the biggest supermarket in the UK, which revealed a 0.7% drop in fourth quarter UK like-for-like sales, excluding VAT and fuel.

Consumer spending power suffered its first fall in 30 years in the final quarter of 2010 as wages failed to keep up with uncomfortably high inflation.

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