The impact of the pandemic on the supermarkets of Córdoba: what happened to sales in 2020 and how 2021 began

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The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) released its survey of supermarkets with the data from December 2020, which allows analyzing what happened during a year that will remain in history due to the shock that the Covid-19 pandemic represented.

One of the sectors that suffered the aftershocks was supermarkets. Although from the beginning the companies in the sector were considered essential due to people’s need to provide themselves with food, they had to have numerous protocols that reduced activity. To which was added the fear of many citizens to attend shops with a lot of traffic, so they opted for nearby shops.

Indec statistics prove it. In Córdoba, the number of operations carried out in supermarkets fell 17 percent.

Throughout 2020, in the 232 commercial outlets surveyed by the official agency in the province, 63.5 million operations were carried out, compared to 76.9 million in 2019. Before, in 2018 it was 75.3 million, and in 2017, 77.1 million (there are no older figures).

As expected, the lowest values ​​occurred in April and May, the strongest period of isolation, with an average of 4.5 million operations, when the historical monthly average exceeds six million.

However, in terms of turnover, the companies did not feel it so much: last year sales totaled 89,319.8 million pesos, 43.7 percent more than the 62,155 million pesos of the previous year.

This rate exceeds the 33.1 percent general inflation rate and the 42.5 percent increase in food in Córdoba, according to data from the Department of Statistics and Censuses of the Province.

A key factor in this regard is that statistics show that people decided to make fewer purchases, but for greater volume. That is, he went to the supermarkets less times, but each time he attended he took the opportunity to spend more and stock up.

On average, each operation carried out in 2020 was for an amount of 1,431 pesos, 78 percent more than the 804 pesos in 2019.

Change of trend

According to Víctor Palpacelli, president of the Chamber of Supermarkets and Self-services of Córdoba (Casac) and of the Argentine Federation of Supermarkets and Self-services (Fasa), in the regional chains 2020 it closed with a decrease of 7.5 percent in the units sold.

“Now the fall started to slow down. In January, the year-on-year retraction was four percent and February is more or less down the same path, “said the head of the Almacor chain.

According to his opinion, the problem is that consumption does not have room to rebound further, not only due to the economic crisis, but also due to the lack of supply of some products.

“There are companies that make only quoted deliveries and that affects sales,” Palpacelli said.

After participating in the Food Table meeting called by the national government to discuss how to stop the increases in the basic food basket, the Cordovan leader confirmed that the main focus of conflict in these days is the policy of maximum prices.

According to Palpacelli, there are many companies that have decided to breach the update values ​​authorized by the Ministry of Internal Trade. They prefer to pay the penalties or directly stop production rather than continue working at a loss.

“The Government authorized a rise of between six and seven percent, and we have received lists with increases of up to 15 and 20 percent in these two months. If one does not accept them, they do not deliver or quote the provision ”, he remarked.

For Palpacelli, it is essential to understand first of all that “price increases are a consequence of inflation and not the other way around”, but that dialogue and the search for solutions should continue to prevail. “We have an obligation to offer food to the population,” he closed.

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