New research has revealed the damaging financial impact that online supermarket shopping is having on some older customers who are shopping in this way to stay safe. YouGov polling commissioned by older people’s charity Independent Age shows that more than half (59%) of over 65s are having to buy more than they need in order to reach supermarkets’ minimum spends, with many spending £10-£15 more on groceries every time they shop because of the charges. 

Independent Age is urging supermarkets to suspend delivery charges and reduce minimum spends for those people in later life and others at greater risk from coronavirus who have been advised by the Government to avoid shopping in stores and are receiving priority delivery slots. 

The new research highlights how those most at risk from COVID-19 are being unfairly penalised by supermarket delivery fees and minimum spends.  

  • More than half (59%) of over 65s who shop online say they have ordered more items than they needed to reach the minimum spend  

  • Of those over 65s who have to overorder, 43% say they typically spend £5-£10 more per order, while 21% say they spend an extra £10 – £15 per order

  • Around 1 in 5 (18%) of adults who have shopped online say they are buying less fresh food due to shopping online 

  • Around 1 in 5 (18%) of adults also say they are eating less healthily than they did before the pandemic 

 

Independent Age Chief Executive Deborah Alsina MBE said: 

“Although the roll-out of the vaccine offers mounting hope, a return to normality and people feeling safe in crowded spaces like supermarkets still feels distant. Those at greater risk are being asked to continue shielding until at least the 29th of March, and many are likely to be nervous about venturing into busy supermarkets even after shielding ends. 

“So, for those who have no option but to shop online, the costs of supermarket deliveries are adding up. As the lockdown drags on, more and more people are finding themselves in desperate circumstances and are having to make savings elsewhere so that they can pay for access to food. 

“Supermarkets have told us they are doing their best to help customers at greater risk. But, after a year of increased sales for the big chains, we’re calling on them to go one step further. We urge them to temporarily suspend delivery charges and reduce minimum spends for their customers most vulnerable to the virus.” 

“...for those who have no option but to shop online, the costs of supermarket deliveries are adding up. As the lockdown drags on, more and more people are finding themselves in desperate circumstances and are having to make savings elsewhere so that they can pay for access to food. 

The new research comes after a group of leading charities wrote to supermarkets in January asking them to suspend delivery fees for customers who are more vulnerable to the virus and receiving priority delivery slots. The charities, who represent millions of people at greater risk of COVID-19, say those who cannot shop in supermarkets due to health risks – and at the advice of the government – are being unfairly penalised through delivery charges and minimum spends for online supermarket shopping. 

ENDS 

Interviews available on request. For case studies and further information please contact independentage@luther.co.uk or 07818269345. 

Note to editors 

About Independent Age: Independent Age provides free information and advice for older people and their families on care and support, money and benefits and health and mobility, along with friendship services to relieve loneliness. The charity also uses the knowledge and insight gained from our frontline services to challenge poor care and campaign for a fair deal for older people – a reasonable standard of living, fair access to information and an opportunity to contribute to their communities. 

1About the Independent Age / YouGov polling - January 2021: YouGov Plc. survey. Total sample size was 2075 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th-31st January 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). 

Supermarket delivery charges and minimum spends: During the first national lockdown supermarkets worked with the government to introduce priority slots for vulnerable people and a range of other measures to make it safer to shop instore. Some supermarkets waived delivery fees for priority customers but since August, with the partial easing of restrictions,  have reintroduced delivery charges for all priority slots. Independent Age has also heard from older people who are concerned that social distancing and other safety measures are not being properly enforced in supermarkets.  

Some of the largest supermarkets have reintroduced delivery charges for shoppers vulnerable to the virus: 

  • Asda: If a customer has a priority pass with Asda, there will be a charge from £1 depending on the day and time of the slot. If they spend under £40, this will also incur a minimum basket fee of £3

  • Tesco: The price of Tesco deliveries is £4.50 (or £5.50 when delivered from Tesco’s Customer Fulfilment Centres). A £4 basket charge is added to home delivery orders at checkout where the basket value is under £40 minimum

  • Sainsbury’s: Orders under £40 will be charged £7 for standard delivery. Orders over £40 are charged between £1- £4.50. The minimum order value is £25​ 

(information sourced November 2020) 

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