Supermarkets in Spain are reluctant to adopt the government plan to reduce the price of basic shopping items

Most say their profit margins are too small and some are not convinced that the proposal would be legal despite government assurances that it is

CLARA ALBA Madrid

The plan to convince Spanish supermarkets to sell basic shopping items for one euro each is not proving easy. Deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz, who is also the Minister for Work, and the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, held a second meeting with representatives of the sector on Monday 12 September, but without any agreement being reached. Another meeting is being scheduled for a few weeks’ time.

The government and major stores do agree that households need help to cope with the rising prices, but the retail sector is reluctant to sell quality items including fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and eggs, for less.

Even Carrefour, which has just launched an offer of 30 basic items for 30 euros, is not including fresh foods as the government wanted. Yolanda Díaz declined to comment on this, except to say that Carrefour had promised to consider the recommendations.

Sources at Eroski have also said the supermarket is making a “major effort” to contain prices for its customers and has introduced special offers during the past three months. “We only have a narrow profit margin anyway, so there is not much room for manoeuvre,” they explained.

Most retailers and associations in the sector are not happy. The executive vice-president of the Anged association, Javier Millán-Astray, said that trying to fix the price of a basic shop will distort the relations between the supermarkets and their suppliers, while the general director of Asedas, Ignacio García Magarzo, said the idea is “neither good nor useful” because it does not take into account the Spanish trading structure.

The sector also believes there could be some legal problems with the plan, although Yolanda Díaz has denied this.