Grocery online fees could soar to £15

Beware that handy supermarket delivery. Online costs are set to rocket, with some charges predicted to hit £15 a time. A big rise from the £5 charge many pay now.

That's because the service - embraced by professionals but which is effectively subsidised by poorer households - is massively unprofitable for supermarket players.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Fees set to climb

Dr Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers, a leading retail analyst, told the Grocer Magazine that surging demand for home grocery services is putting pressure on the supermarkets to ramp up home delivery fees.

Poor families, he says, are effectively subsidising better off middle class families with this service because the home delivery online service is hugely subsidised by a supermarket's bricks-and-mortar operations.

50% surge

Recently Waitrose claimed a 50% rise in home shopping customers. Online shopping sales are thought to be accelerating at around 15% a year as more cotton on to its convenience. "In the long run, the service cost of home delivery will need to be better covered if this growing channel is not going to deplete returns and penalise the poor," Black told the Grocer.

However, as the online model becomes more popular, its costs may fall. Despite this, Black thinks charges of around £10-15 could be likely. Many lower income consumers already struggle with the costs of supermarket shopping, as many retailers are based in out-of-town retail parks, demanding time and petrol.

Free for some

Morrisons and Marks & Spencer have not yet entered the online food fray, though it's thought Morrisons may dip a toe in the market with a wine service.

It's worth remembering that bricks-and-mortar retailers are increasingly finding ways to save money, witness the proliferation of automated check-out lines, saving supermarkets millions in check-out staff salaries.

If you do pay for home deliveries, some supermarkets do still deliver free of charge. Waitrose will deliver to your home if you spend a minimum £50. Other supermarkets also offer free delivery, subject to how much you spend and availability.
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