One mother in four mothers forced to return items at checkout in order to make ends meet
One in four cash-strapped mothers is being forced to return items at the checkout or buy low-cost own brand products in order to make ends meet.
In a desperate attempt to disguise the impact of the economic downturn from their children, mothers are re-filling branded cereal boxes with supermarket own brand versions.
The tactics being used in homes across the country have emerged in a study carried out by Asda.
Cash-strapped: Some mothers are having to take items back at the checkout because they cannot afford them, new research has shown
The research – dubbed the Mumdex – comes from interviews with around 4,000 mothers to gauge their views and experiences in the current economic climate and discovered some 75pc had lower disposable incomes than a year ago.
Around 42pc have been forced to accept a household pay cut or freeze and 23pc can’t make ends meet and are borrowing to get by.
While households across the country are facing some of the most straightened times seen in a generation official data last week showed retail sales rose unexpectedly in January lifting hopes that Britain’s economy will avoid recession despite having contracted in the last three months of 2011.
Fooled: The survey found some mothers are putting supermarket brand cereals into branded boxes so their children did not realise the impact of the downturn (stock picture)
But chief operating officer Judith McKenna said shoppers are still feeling the pain and she has spoken to a number of mothers who are resporting to a variety of different ways to cut costs.
‘One mum has stopped buying a leading brand of cereal opting instead to refill the box with our cheaper own-brand variety,’ she said. ‘Her kids have not noticed yet and she plans to do a big reveal to tell them.
‘Others have started taking back items at the checkout when they see the bill. One mum said her children were so mortified that she has now equipped them with calculators and they keep track of the budget as she adds items to the trolley.
‘But the research shows that although shoppers have concerns about the economy, they’re positive about their ability to do the best for their families and manage through what the economy throws at them. They also want to see businesses playing their part in supporting them and their communities through tough times.’
At the end of last year Britain’s supermarkets became embroiled in an intense price war. Tesco unveiled its 500 million Big Price Drop last October, with Sainsbury’s launching its Brand Match scheme shortly after.
But Tesco recently admitted its pricing strategy had failed after a disappointing Christmas period saw underlying sales excluding VAT and petrol drop 2.3 per cent in the six weeks to January 7.
Failure: Tesco has admitted that its 'Big Price Drop' scheme did not live up to expectations after a disappointing Christmas period saw underlying sales excluding VAT and petrol drop
Asda, whose customers are 80 per cent women, said yesterday its underlying sales had increased by 1pc for the 14 weeks to January 7.
Its study also showed said: ‘For many of our mums, the situation is critical. This isn’t about a reassessment of values – it’s about a struggle to keep their families’ heads above water.
‘These mums are preoccupied with how changes in the economy are impacting their families. Mums are having to tighten the purse strings just to stay afloat. With lower wages and higher living costs, it is not just the big monthly payments like mortgages that are causing pressure – day-to-day living costs such as food and utility bills are causing problems too.’
The survey showed a net 60 percent are pessimistic about the outlook for the UK economy while 23 per cent are optimistic about the future of their family’s quality of life, and 6 per cent are upbeat about their household finances.