Skip to content
Media releases
7 March 2022

Cost of living is New Zealanders’ top concern

As the Commerce Commission is gearing up to release its final report into the grocery sector tomorrow, new research from Consumer NZ has found the top national concern is now the cost of living. This confirms how badly we need stronger competition and fairer prices in the sector.

Consumer NZ’s Sentiment Tracker survey - a nationally representative quarterly survey - found the cost of living has overtaken previous top concerns of Covid 19 and the price of housing.

The tracker also looked at ongoing financial concerns for New Zealanders, with the cost of groceries ranking highly, superseded surpassed only by housing costs and unmanageable debt.

“We’re concerned about the rising cost of living and how many New Zealanders are struggling to afford their grocery bills. We’ve been campaigning for much needed change in New Zealand’s highly concentrated supermarket industry. With only two main players there is a distinct lack of competition that is contributing to high prices and higher than acceptable profit margins,” said Jon Duffy, Consumer NZ chief executive.

“The release of the final market study in the grocery sector provides a once in a generation opportunity to bring about real change in the industry, including fostering genuine competition and fairer pricing for all consumers. Our submission highlights what we believe needs to be done to fix the industry, identifying ten key areas that could easily be implemented within the next year.”

We are calling for 10 fixes for the supermarket industry:

  1. The introduction of a mandatory code of conduct.
  2. The appointment of a Supermarket Commissioner.
  3. Allowing collective bargaining on behalf of suppliers.
  4. Requiring supermarkets to supply other retailers with groceries at competitive wholesale prices.
  5. Preventing supermarkets placing restrictive covenants on land use.
  6. Introducing mandatory unit pricing.
  7. Introducing a consumer information standard on supermarket price displays and promotions.
  8. Preventing supermarkets offering price discounts only to loyalty card holders.
  9. Requiring monitoring of retail prices and margins.
  10. Increasing Fair Trading Act penalties for misleading pricing.

“We hope to see positive and impactful recommendations for change by the Commerce Commission tomorrow,” said Duffy.

Consumer NZ also polled over 1000 people through a weekly email and social media about how they were faring with their supermarket shopping. 98% are said they are worried about the cost of groceries in New Zealand and were making changes to their weekly shop as a result. More than four in five (84%) have removed items from their usual weekly shop because of cost.