Photo of $72 Coles bag shows worrying trend: 'Only getting worse'

Photo of $72 Coles bag shows worrying trend: ‘Only getting worse’

The ‘expensive’ transport of a Coles buyer has made it clear that massive, soaring inflation continues to plague Australians, already struggling to make ends meet.

The stunned Melbourne supermarket shopper has posted a photo of his grocery items and receipt online after returning home. “Just put $72 of groceries in one bag. No $7 item. Shit gets expensive,” they wrote, admitting they fear “it’s only going to get worse.”

The receipt shows that the buyer purchased 18 items, including muffins, Cadbury chocolate, chips, bread, butter, aluminum foil, milk, chicken, ham, tea tree oil, and twisties. Hundreds of others have flooded the Reddit post with their own similar stories, showing just how struggling people are to keep up with the rising cost of living.

A receipt shows the Coles buyer purchased 18 items for $72. Source: Reddit

“Two grocery bags cost me $180 today. Use to fill cart for it,” one person wrote. “The days of filling a shopping cart are over for me, especially this year. Now it fills a basket for the same price,” replied another.

“We bought rice in bulk and used it to make almost every meal. If it’s not rice, it’s cheap pasta with frozen veggies (sic). That’s the only way we can do it,” said another. “Groceries, utilities, gas, interest, insurance… childcare. It never ends. We had to stop the children’s extracurricular activities to make ends meet. I can’t remember the last time we ate out,” wrote another.

Food prices are rising again

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the consumer price index rose a further 1.8 percent in the September quarter, with fruit and vegetables up a further 4.5 percent and meat and seafood up 1.5 percent.

The cost of dairy and related products rose a whopping 6.8 percent “due to higher milk prices,” according to the ABS. Bread and cereal products also rose 3.4 percent and other food items rose 3.9 percent.

“The September quarter saw sharp price increases for all groceries and non-food groceries. These increases reflect a range of price pressures, including supply chain disruptions, weather-related events such as flooding, and increased transportation and input costs,” the ABS said.

A chart showing the increase in grocery products for the September quarter.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, fruit and vegetables grew another 4.5 percent and meat and seafood rose 1.5 percent in the September quarter. Source: ABS

“No relief on the horizon”

According to Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker, the number of Aussies reporting financial strain from food is at an all-time high. But with flooding continuing to ravage Queensland, NSW and Victoria – and a row between maritime unions and the country’s main tugboat operator threatens to disrupt supply chains – there are fears the situation is only set to get worse.

“Finder research shows a significant increase in the number of households citing housing, groceries and gas as causes of financial stress. That stress is being driven by massive increases in costs across the board – meat up 15 percent, vegetables up 10 percent, bread up 8 percent over the last year,” Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, told Yahoo News Australia.

“Gasoline prices have doubled in the last two years and could double again in 2023. The factors causing these price increases are likely to continue for many months to come, meaning there is no relief in sight for households.”

Members of the Sydney Public Fresh Produce Shop, Wednesday 26 October 2022. Source: AAP

Experts have warned that for struggling buyers, “there is no relief on the horizon”. Source: AAP

Inflation ‘really starting to hit shelf prices’

In the first fiscal quarter of 2022, Woolworths said food price inflation was 7.3 percent, with Coles reporting a price increase of 7.1 percent, indicating inflation is “really starting to hit shelf prices,” according to the retail analyst and Queensland University of Technology Professor Gary Mortimer told Yahoo News Australia.

“Across the board, buyers should expect differential price inflation. Fruit and vegetable prices have been impacted by poor weather and flooding in Queensland and NSW,” he said. “Red meat inflation due to higher commodity prices and drought, and dairy due to higher farm gate milk prices. For dry groceries, inflation is mainly being driven by higher supplier price hikes due to industry-wide input cost pressures and rising fuel and utility costs.”

The Effects of Price Changes on Christmas

In the short term, Mr Mortimer said he expects inflation to continue to impact supermarket retail prices, with fuel prices not expected to fall until weather conditions improve. There is some good news, however, as the Aussies gear up for Christmas.

“Supermarkets are certainly implementing price consistency measures across their store. One way we see this is through a “lockdown” program – meaning holding prices for a longer period of time. In some cases, several months into early 2023. For many, that means the cost of Christmas dinner this year should be about the same as last year,” Mortimer said.

Last week, Woolworths announced that Christmas favorites like candy, ham, tiger prawns and cheese will remain at the same price or less than last year’s Christmas. Another 150 items that are popular over the holiday season will have their prices reduced.

Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Coles for comment.

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