A recent study of Which? found that consumers in the United Kingdom are experiencing nearly a 20% increase in ordinary household items as well as limited offers and discounts at the supermarkets.
The data from the study revealed that the price of 265 groceries increased by more than a fifth even though there has been a lack of supermarket discounts and budget ranges, reports The Independent.
Researchers collected the prices of approximately 21,000 grocery items over the span of two years and compared the average prices of such items belonging to eight major supermarkets between December 2021 and February 2022 with the same period of two years previously.
Some of the products included in the study were Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes Cereal 500g, which increased by 21.4% at Tesco, Asda's 250g Own Label Closed Cup Mushrooms, up 21.4%, and Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar 350g, which rose by 21.1% at Ocado.
Groceries with the lowest inflation included chocolate (1.4%), fresh fruit (1.6%), biscuits (1.8%), and vegetables (1.9%). Across 20 categories of groceries, fizzy drinks saw the biggest average price rise at 5.9%, followed by butters and spreads (4.9%), energy drinks (4.8%) and milk (4.6%).
The study also showed a significant drop in discounts offered by the supermarkets as well as a decrease in the availability of own-label budget ranges. The number of promotions fell across every one of the 20 categories the watchdog studied, including the number of discounts on bottled water down 14.7% and on vegetables down 11%.
Consumers were also offered smaller portions for the same price during this time.
The size of savings in promotions that did still happen were also cut in three-quarters of the categories. This was most pronounced for butters and spreads, where the size of savings fell by 3.6% over the two years, followed by vegetables (3.5%) and crisps (2.9%).
Nescafe Azera Americano decaffeinated instant coffee shrinking from 100g to 90g and Walkers Classic Variety crisps dropping from 24 bags in a multipack to 22 bags.
Which?'s study also found that own-brand budget ranges – which have seen the lowest level of inflation at just 0.2% compared with 3.2% for own-label premium ranges – have become less available.
Meanwhile, according to the study, budget own-brand products were unavailable on three times as many days during the most recent three-month period than two years previously.
Of the 20 product categories, own-brand cheese was out of stock the most at 17 days in 2022 compared with six days in 2019.
A Tesco spokesman said: "We are committed to providing great value for our customers, whether it's promising 'Low Everyday Prices' on 1,600 staples, price matching around 650 basics to Aldi prices, or offering exclusive deals and rewards through thousands of Clubcard prices."
British Retail Consortium director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said: "Rising inflation is a continued concern for both consumers and retailers. The global price of many food commodities has reached record highs over the last few months, pushing up prices for consumers. Other price pressures include increased energy, transport and labour costs, all of which are being exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine.
"Retailers will continue to do all they can to keep prices down and deliver value for their customers by limiting price rises and expanding their value ranges."
Which? is calling on supermarkets and manufacturers to provide clear unit pricing to allow consumers to easily compare and choose the best value items, such as cost per 100g or 100ml, and ensure that budget items are readily available.
Sue Davies, Which? head of food policy and consumer rights, said: "Our research reveals that eye-watering price rises are being exacerbated by practices like shrinkflation and limited availability of all-important budget ranges – and these factors are combining to put huge pressure on household shopping budgets.
"During an unrelenting cost-of-living crisis, consumers should be able to easily choose the best value product for them without worrying about shrinkflation or whether their local store stocks budget ranges."