As the cost of living continues to grow, one New Zealand supermarket chain has moved to try and make shopping more affordable.
Countdown has announced it will freeze the prices on at least 500 essential items across the winter months. That means that even if living costs rise again, the price of items like tinned tomatoes, butter, cheese and flour will remain the same.
The price freeze begins next Monday and will remain in place for the entire winter period.
Countdown’s Steve Mills told RNZ that it was tough for consumers at the moment. “What we’re seeing is shipping rate increases up 640%, fuel costs up 30%, and these all affect pretty much everything we sell,” he said.
“We are working very closely with our suppliers and they are being very proactive about how we can both try and absorb cost, price increases and mitigate those where we can. So we try to pass on the least amount of increase as we possibly can to our customers.”
Some, however, are sceptical whether Countdown’s move is enough. Newshub reporter Michael Morrah labelled it a “PR exercise” while Consumer NZ’s chief executive Jon Duffy said it’s not actually targeting the problem. “This kind of unilateral, kind of gracious, act by Countdown isn’t fixing the underlying problem,” he said. “I do applaud the sentiment behind what Countdown is doing here, but let’s remember they have been under a sustained period of negative public sentiment.
In Australia, Countdown’s parent company Woolworths has cut prices rather than keeping them static.
It’s not yet known whether competitor chains like New World or PakN’Save will be following suit. The Spinoff has asked Foodstuffs NZ for comment.