John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, said there was an ‘overwhelming need’ for a windfall tax on energy companies after seeing supermarket customers ‘extremely strained’
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The Tesco boss today warned customers had to close their grocery store at checkout because they couldn’t afford to eat.
John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, said customers were asking staff to stop scanning their groceries once their bill reached a certain amount due to the cost of living squeeze.
It comes a day after a report revealed that 7.3 million adults now fall into the ‘food insecure’ bracket and two million regularly skip meals because they cannot afford to eat. .
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today, Mr Allan said there is a ‘serious need’ for a windfall tax on energy companies after seeing supermarket customers ‘extremely strained’ .
During a recent visit to a Tesco store, the boss said he saw customers asking staff to stop scanning items “for the first time in years”.
He said: “I was hearing for the first time in many years customers saying to the till staff, ‘stop when you get to £40’, or something like that, ‘I don’t want to spend a penny for that.’
“You know, instead of checking everything and paying the bill at the end.
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“So I think a lot of people feel something like a pinch and a lot of people actually feel extremely tense.”
Asked what he would like to see in the Queen’s Speech, John Allan said: ‘First of all, I think actions to help people cope with a very, very big increase in the price of energy.
“It’s harder for people to mitigate energy than with food, and I think there’s an overwhelming case for a windfall tax on the profits of those energy producers going back to those who need the most help with energy prices.
“I think that would be the greatest thing that could be done.” He added that he thinks energy companies “expect it” and doubts “that they would actually be very confused by it”.
Consumers have “curbed” their shopping habits due to the soaring cost of living, the figures show.
The latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor revealed that sales fell in April after a sharp drop in consumer confidence.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “The rising cost of living has shaken consumer confidence and dampened consumer spending.
“Sales growth has slowed since January, although the true extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation.”
Total food sales for the three-month period decreased 1.3%.
Paul Martin, head of UK retail at KPMG, said: “With interest rates and inflation on the rise and the Bank of England warning of a possible recession, the squeeze on disposable income of households is starting to have an impact on the main street.”
Ministers have called for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help ease the cost of living crisis.
Labor’s Keir Starmer has urged the government to introduce a one-off tax on oil and gas giants as rising energy bills boost profits.
A windfall tax is usually a one-time levy imposed on a company or group of companies that have unexpectedly benefited from an event beyond their control, in this case a spike in oil and gas prices.
Labor’s proposal is to raise corporation tax on oil and gas producers by 10 percentage points for a year, which the party says would raise £1.2billion.
The money raised would be used to help offset a jump in household energy bills.