Monday, 30 March 2020

To restrain supermarket prices, let butchers, bakers and fruit and vege stores open

“As the COVID-19 lockdown evolves, the Government must walk back its restriction on bakeries, butchers and fruit and vegetable stores”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government has effectively given supermarkets a monopoly on food, but it seems surprised that prices have risen. In some areas, that monopoly power is strong. The same Government that recently spent a year bashing petrol retailers for not being competitive enough must now allow competition in an even more essential sector: food.

“In normal times, supermarkets face very real competition from butchers, bakeries, and fresh fruit and vegetable stores. Supermarkets must restrain their prices in order to remain competitive. People are noticing price increases in part because supermarkets no longer face competition from these outlets.

“Allowing fresh fruit and vegetable stores, bakeries and butchers to open would actually help fight COVID-19. At the same time the Government is asking people to restrict travel and maintain physical distancing it is asking people to travel further to visit busier stores. This is illogical.

“Allowing butchers, bakeries, and fresh fruit and vegetable stores to open would also allow the proprietors of those stores a financial lifeline. It makes no sense for those businesses to go broke when they could be serving consumers, providing competition, and reducing the spread of COVID-19 at the same time.

“Naturally, any businesses allowed to open should be required to meet physical distancing protocols. If dairies can manage it, so too can bakeries, butchers, and fresh fruit and vegetable stores.”