As the cost-of-living crisis begins to impact customers at the checkout, Asda chief customer officer Sam Dickson shines a light on the behaviours the grocer is seeing in its supermarkets and the measures it is taking to help families in need

Each week, we welcome more than 15 million customers to our stores or online – all looking for the best value on their shopping – which gives us a unique insight into how families are coping with the cost-of-living crisis.

We know that millions of families are really feeling the strain from soaring living costs, which show no signs of abating. The latest Asda Income Tracker, which measures household disposable income after tax and essential spending are accounted for, shows the average UK household is £175 a month worse off compared to this time last year.

“With more than 600 stores across the length and breadth of the UK, we can see first-hand the tough choices facing customers each day”

What is more, the burden of the increased cost of living is being felt the most by those families with the lowest income, as they have experienced the biggest fall in disposable income year on year. Our data shows a fifth of all UK households now have ‘negative disposable income’ – meaning their take-home pay no longer covers what they need to spend on essentials such as groceries, energy bills, transport costs, mortgage or rent.

With more than 600 stores across the length and breadth of the UK, we can see first-hand the tough choices facing customers each day. Some are buying less or only buying products that are on promotion, while others are leaving products at the checkout to stay within the strict budget they have set themselves.

We are determined to do everything that we can to help our customers through challenging times by making their budgets stretch further. That is why we launched ‘Just Essentials by Asda’ earlier this year – the largest value range in the market comprising almost 300 budget-friendly products including fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat, fish and poultry. All our Just Essentials food products will be available in all stores by the end of August and have been designed so customers can enjoy healthy and nutritious food, whatever their budget.

Families at breaking point

We have also reduced the prices of hundreds of popular branded and own-label products by an average of 12% and have locked these prices until the end of this year to give families control over their weekly shop. The combined investment in Just Essentials and our ‘Dropped & Locked’ pricing initiative is more than £90m.

For many families, the cost of keeping the kids fed and watered during the summer holidays will be challenging given their household budgets are already stretched to breaking point.

With this in mind, we are giving kids aged 16 and under the chance to eat for £1 in all 205 Asda cafes, with no minimum adult spend. The offer was launched in Scotland at the end of June to coincide with the start of the school holidays and our cafes there have already served more than 11,000 kids’ meals in less than a month.

“Asda’s foundations are based on delivering great value for families and, more than ever, we’re committed to supporting them during these unprecedented times”

The offer launches in England and Wales next week to coincide with the start of the school holidays there and, given the demand we have seen in Scotland, we have decided to run the offer in all UK cafes until the end of this year.

In a further show of support for our customers, Asda has this week launched its ‘Essential Living Hub’ – a one-stop online resource where customers can access a broad range of hints, tips and hacks that go beyond the weekly food shop, covering how to save energy, budget better, buy and cook smarter, entertain the kids for free and even eat out without paying a penny.

With the Bank of England predicting that inflation will exceed 10% later this year, the pressure on cash-strapped households is unlikely to ease any time soon. Asda’s foundations are based on delivering great value for families and now, more than ever, we’re committed to supporting them during these unprecedented times.