The inflationary acceleration impacts above all in neighborhood businesses.
In February, the consumption of basic products (food, beverages, toiletries, and cleaning) in self-service stores and small supermarket chains contracted 8.8%.
local stores accumulate 12 consecutive months of falls due to promotions and the impact of Fair Prices
, which are concentrated in large chains and hypermarkets.
The data comes from a survey prepared by the Scanntech consultancy, which measures the evolution of sales and prices in 680 local points of sale.
Demand is contracting but prices are not slowing down.
In the first two months of 2023,
inflation in the smallest business formats rose 11.4%, but "the year-on-year rate exceeded triple digits: 104.7%
," says Scanntech.
The gap between channels has been accentuating to the rhythm of the distortions caused, especially, by the pricing policy undertaken by the Ministry of Commerce.
Its flagship program, Fair Prices, favors the so-called "modern channel", which is made up of the main supermarket chains, such as Carrefour, Cencosud (Jumbo, Disco and Vea), Changomás and Día, among others, whose market share jumped from
34 % to 38.5% in the last year
If all marketing formats are averaged, mass consumption fell 1.6% in January and 1.1% in February, much better figures than those registered in Asian and independent supermarkets.
In mass consumption, indicates a study by the consulting firm Nielsen, it is distributed in
a very fragmented universe of 286,300 points of sale,
including stores, supermarket chains, self-service stores, kiosks and drag stores, perfumeries and pharmacies.
Scanntech's measurement underlines that in the first two months of 2023, "all product families lose in consumption: food (-12.6%) as well as personal care (-13) are the ones with the greatest drop, while cleaning (-7.2) and beverages (-4.4) present smaller negative variations”.
The negative trend continued throughout the last 12 months.
In January, consumption in that channel fell 7.3%, "accelerating the levels of decline compared to previous periods," says Scanntech.
The contraction of sales in the so-called proximity channel registered peaks in August (-9%), September (-7.5%) and October (-11.1%)
The drop in that quarter coincides with the entry into force of the new Fair Prices program, devised by the current Secretary of Commerce, Matías Tombolini.
Now February enters the list of the worst indicators in recent times.
The size of the surface has a particular impact on the universe of lower income sectors.
"Only 15% of the poorest households consume in large supermarkets
," says economist Santiago Romero Manoukian, from Ecolatina.
The chains have the lowest prices on average, due to the combination of the Fair Prices plan, promotional activities and a wide range of payment methods, which even facilitates the financing of purchases.
“But in places farthest from urban centers there is a higher prevalence of small businesses.
The big supermarkets are not everywhere”
, clarifies Romero Manoukian.
Availability and proximity are decisive factors in choosing the place of purchase.
Another reason is that due to the loss of the purchasing power of income, people divide consumption and spend the bare minimum.
"The shopping trip in supermarkets during February (average ticket) was $1,322 including 4.5 units," shows the Scanntech study.
Fair Prices has a limited scope to the modern channel (supermarkets and wholesalers).
The formula seeks to establish reference prices for more than 50,000 products in agreements entered into with companies from 17 different sectors.
This contemplates a cap of 3.2% per month on increases against the delivery of dollars from reserves (the cheapest on the market) to pay for imports.
Inflation in 2022 was the highest in 32 years (94.8% year-on-year) and the beginning of 2023 shows signs of acceleration, something that was verified when knowing the indicators for January (6%) and February (6.6%)
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