Will prices rise if supermarkets apply government-approved product rationing?

Theresa Sanchez VincentFOLLOW, CONTINUE
Updated: 03/31/2022 10:06 a.m.
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The episodes of scarcity of some products due to the strike of carriers or the lack of some raw materials that come from Ukraine have led to the legal change included in the law on Trade Management. The
royal decree law on measures against war introduces a provision
that allows the rationing of the maximum units per item that each buyer can put in the cart. These measures will be adopted in "exceptional situations" and when there is a risk of shortages.

In what cases will supermarkets be able to ration the sale of products in Spain?

Commercial establishments may temporarily suspend the prohibition provided for in section 2 to limit the number of items that can be purchased by each buyer when there are extraordinary circumstances or force majeure that justify it.

In summary, the exceptional situation referred to in the text published yesterday Wednesday in the BOE has to do with a scenario of possible shortages such as the one suffered in recent weeks due to the strike of carriers or the interruption of oil exports from sunflower, corn or wheat that previously came from the Ukraine.

What is the main purpose of the Executive with this measure?

The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, assured this Wednesday that this new legal formula seeks that in supermarkets "there is equal access to all consumers" and "avoid hoarding." “It is a measure that provides legal certainty. It is very limited for them to do so on an exceptional and justified basis, but we respond to a need that the distribution sector conveyed to us and that has become apparent as a result of the transport lockouts," explained Maroto.

Can prices go up if you begin to practice rationing of products for sale?

The spokesmen for the Facua consumer association called it "irresponsible" for the Government to give carte blanche to ration the products for sale. They also warned that this practice can lead to speculation: "Something that, together with the lack of controls in the market, can cause many to do so in order to achieve sales increases while prices rise," they warned. .

The association of financial users Asufin took a position along the same lines, expressing its “total rejection” of the legal protection of the restriction of items for sale, “given that it further encourages consumer paranoia and covers price speculation. with essential products. “It is not reasonable that commercial establishments allow unilateral decision-making on such a sensitive issue for the consumer and that has a direct impact on the price of items,” they criticize from Asufin

What has been the motivation of the Government to approve this provision?

The decision to allow rationing in shops comes after episodes of punctual shortages of products such as sunflower oil or milk that have been recorded in recent weeks. At the beginning of March, the Spanish Association of Distributors, Supermarkets and Supermarkets (Asedas) already advanced that some food distribution companies were limiting the sale of sunflower oil due to "atypical consumer behavior".

What immediate effect does the stockpiling of products by consumers have?

During the worst moments of the strike of the transporters, the bosses of the great consumption
claimed responsibility for massive purchases
. The president of the Spanish Association of Supermarket Chains (ACES), Aurelio del Pino, then demanded that consumers be responsible for purchasing for mass stockpiles, which far from solving the problem "complicate even more the management of stocks in stores ».

Have purchases skyrocketed in recent weeks?

Sales made by supermarkets and hypermarkets in the week from Monday, March 7 to Sunday, March 13 shot up, reaching a growth of 23% over the same week of the previous year, according to data provided by Nielsen IQ. The fear of shortages caused by the strike of carriers, together with the concern and solidarity that the war in Ukraine has once again left us with many gaps on the shelves, as in the case of milk, which, in some cases, filled its space with toilet paper, the product that symbolized the irrational purchase in the first days of the pandemic », they interpret from the consultant.

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