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How retailers are supporting customers during cost-of-living crisis

By Simone Preuss

9 Jan 2023

Retail

Decathlon’s secondhand programme. Image: Decathlon Germany

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which brings together thousands of retailers, has compiled the actions some of its major members have taken to support their customers in times of rising energy prices and increased cost of living.

Aldi

Discount supermarket chain Aldi has donated 700,000 meals to charities, food banks and community groups during the summer holidays in partnership with platform Neighbourly. In addition, it gave away 80,000 items from the Mamia baby range to charities and food banks that support young parents and low-income caregivers.

In view of the around 1.6 million people who depend on food banks in Germany alone, Aldi Nord has supported them with shopping vouchers worth 200,000 euros. Almost all Aldi Süd stores regularly donate boxes of fruit, vegetables, bread or cereals to local food banks, Caritas or other charitable organisations. The discounter also increased its minimum wage from 12.50 euros to 14 euros per hour in Germany from June 2022 in response to the latest price increases, or at least 11 pounds (around 12.50 euros) since October 2022 in the UK.

Amazon

Online retailer Amazon offers weekly price reductions for various types of groceries such as fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.

Decathlon

Sporting goods retailer Decathlon has launched a rental service to make large purchases cheaper. For example, customers can rent paddle boards, kayaks and e-bikes from around 20 pounds (around 24 US dollars/22 euros) per day. Since the beginning of November, the company has also been testing a buy-back service in Germany through which customers can return their used sports products to Decathlon and receive a voucher or a cash payment in return.

John Lewis

Department store chain John Lewis has extended its exchange and return policy to help customers spread the cost of the holiday season. They can shop for items now and exchange or return unwanted gifts until 28th January 2023.

As part of the John Lewis Partnership, the retailer is also offering financial support in the form of a one-time living allowance of 500 pounds (around 600 US dollars/570 euros) and a relief fund to support workers. There are also free meals for employees and seasonal workers. Food donations also go to the FareShare aid network. Home Start matches volunteers to teach families basic cooking skills to help them cook more affordable meals.

Lidl

Like competitor Aldi, food discounter Lidl has partnered with Neighbourly too and put up “Good to Give” signage on shelves to encourage shoppers to donate more to food banks. It has also reduced the prices of Christmas foods, for example a turkey dinner to serve a family six for less than 2.75 pounds per head.

Marks & Spencer

In light of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK, Marks & Spencer has launched a 15 million pound package aimed at supporting its front-line employees. It aids customers by lowering the prices of staple foods such as bananas, milk, bread and ground beef and introduced the “Bigger Pack Better Value” line for all essential groceries.

During the school holidays, children can eat a 3.95 pound meal for free at M&S cafes when they spend 5 pounds or more. The prices for school uniforms also remained the same throughout the summer and early bird shoppers received a 20 percent discount. The company has also partnered with Neighbourly and donated 1 million pounds to 1,000 local community groups as part of the “Gifts That Give” campaign.

Primark

The Irish textile discounter has maintained prices on essential children's clothing and bestsellers to help customers prepare for the new school year.

Aldi
John Lewis
Lidl
Marks & Spencer
Primark