UK Consumers Worse Off Than 2009: Retail Chain
Staff Writer, CNBC.com
Shoppers in the UK are in a worse place than during the last recession, the group finance director of one of the country's biggest supermarket chains told CNBC Thursday.
"We all know that it's very tight out there," Richard Pennycook of Morrisons told CNBC, after the company announced better-than-expected results for the first half of 2011.
"The irony for consumers is that they are feeling it more than they were in 2009, when there actually was a recession, because disposable incomes are down."
More consumers are buying and cooking food from scratch, or trading down from eating out to ready-made meals, he added.
The supermarket group's share price rose in early trade Thursday after it announced an 8 percent rise in first-half profit.
It is investing around £1 billion ($1.6 billion) annually in opening new stores, and has been linked with a bid for smaller British grocery chain Iceland.
Pennycook declined to comment about whether his company would bid for Iceland.
Sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.2 percent, excluding petrol and VAT sales tax, better than analysts' forecast of an increase of about 1.9 percent.
This was a slowdown from the 2.5 percent growth in sales seen in the first quarter.