UK shoppers face worse cost-of-living hit than Europeans, says Poundland owner

Pepco said spending is dropping across Western Europe, but it is especially bad in Britain.

09 June 2022

UK customers appear to be worse hit by the cost-of-living crisis than those elsewhere in Europe, the company behind Poundland has said.

Pepco said British shoppers are cutting back on essential purchases as they face a big hit to their disposable incomes.

The company operates in several European countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and Germany.

It said that in central and eastern Europe, the cost of living is being offset by high wage growth, at least in the short term.

In Western Europe wages are not growing, which is pushing down the amount that customers spend. But Pepco singled out the UK as being particularly bad.

It said: “In Western European markets the acute spike in inflation in a stagnant wage growth environment has quickly resulted in absolute lower spending by consumers.

“Specifically in the UK, the cost-of-living crisis has impacted customers’ disposable income as they scale back even on essential purchases in the short term.

“Our continued focus on reducing the costs of doing business means that we are able to offset some of our input inflation, allowing us to protect prices for all of our cost-conscious customers.”

The business said Poundland revenue rose 11.4% in the first half of last year to 1.1 billion euros (£940 million), though on a like-for-like basis it increased by just 3.3%.

Overall sales across the group increased 18.9% to 2.4 billion euros (£2.1 billion).

Chief executive Trevor Masters said: “As pandemic restrictions progressively eased it was… encouraging to see the strong return of customers, and the continuation of this into Q3 (the third quarter) resulted in the group’s like-for-like sales rising above pre-Covid levels for the comparable period three years ago.

“We have emerged a stronger, more resilient operator from this unprecedented recent period by being a bigger group through accelerating our store openings, a better retailer through store and proposition renewal, and a simpler business through scale-led cost reductions.

“We have maintained our market leading position on prices and through our continued focus on reducing the cost of doing business, we have been able to shield customers from price rises on some of our products at a time of significant inflationary pressure on household budgets.”

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