Prices take off: mixed fortunes for shoppers over lockdown
While many airline tickets have jumped in cost, other items are cheaper, find Dominic Gilbert, Alex Clark and Adam Williams
‘Flight prices for most places failed to shift much, except as take-off dates approached’
Holidaymakers booking an early getaway have been hit by higher flight prices as airlines capitalise on the end of lockdown, analysis by The Daily Telegraph has revealed. Sun-seekers can now travel to dozens of countries without needing to quarantine on their return.
However, those looking to book a bargain flight needed to act fast after airlines raised prices substantially for July bookings. The cost of flights to popular European destinations such as Alicante and Tenerife doubled after restrictions were lifted – with prices increasing much faster than those to countries where restrictions remain in place. During lockdown, airlines slashed prices in a bid to generate future bookings, a tactic still being used for the end of the summer months, with prices continuing to fall for a September break.
The analysis also revealed shoppers faced increased costs for in-demand items during lockdown, as people stocked up on essential goods.
Some prices have returned to normal, but items such as tinned beans, anti-bacterial wipes and tomato puree are still more expensive.
Prices for beauty products also increased in the run-up to pubs and restaurants reopening on July 4, as retailers tried to profit from the larger number of people going out.
Prices jump on panic-buying
In the early days of lockdown, people started hoarding toilet roll, while supermarket shelves were stripped of many of the most essential products.
For weeks, shoppers stockpiled £1bn worth of goods and panic-buying spread across the country – prompting tearful pleas from NHS workers already at the forefront of the pandemic response.
Supermarkets were forced to reduce opening hours and limit purchases in order to keep the supply chain running.
As the lockdown came into effect, the prices of most essential household items rose, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Average prices for all food and household items rose from their baseline in mid-March; by early July they fell back to normal.
The products with the highest price rises, according to the index, were spray cleaner and tomato puree, which rose in cost to 5pc above normal during lockdown.
By mid-May, the price of tinned beans and soup had risen by more than 3.5pc, remaining high by the first week of July.
After early price rises, the costs of toilet roll and pasta sauce have now fallen to below the levels they were at in mid-March. And with an unprecedented drive for hygiene, the cost of anti-bacterial wipes and handwash rose by more than
3pc during lockdown. Prices for these items remain higher now than before the pandemic took hold in Britain.
How prices stand as the lockdown measures lift
After weeks of quarantine, the cost of health and beauty products surged as people began to socialise again.
In the run-up to pubs and restaurants reopening in England on July 4, the average price of a basket of cosmetics, including mascara, foundation and lipstick, rose by around 15pc compared with the first week of March, according to
Telegraph analysis of comparison website PriceSpy.
Lockdown – and its wide-ranging restrictions on people’s activities – brought with it initial spikes in the prices of some goods, a reflection of the new habits formed by Britons stuck at home.
One of the biggest surges was in DIY goods, with the average price of a drill increasing by more than 20pc.
The cost of baking equipment also rose: prices of kitchen scales were hiked by 10pc in April on the previous month.
Some products, particularly outdoor goods, fell in price during lockdown, however. Tents fell in price the most, and are yet to recover.
Flight prices rise fastest in countries out of quarantine
With flights grounded across Europe for weeks, airline operators could have been expected to hike prices to recoup losses. But despite quarantine rules being lifted in a slew of countries across Europe and beyond, flight prices for most destinations failed to shift dramatically, except as take-off dates approached.
The Telegraph tracked flight prices from London airports to select destinations between June 24 and July 9, as the travel industry waited for announcements on air bridges.
Flights scheduled for July 10-14 rose fastest in those countries given a green or amber status – allowing travel without a 14-day quarantine. Flights to
Berlin during this period trebled in price, and those to Alicante more than doubled. Flights to Tenerife for July rose by more than 100pc over the same timeframe. All were in countries where quarantine restrictions were lifted at the time.
Meanwhile, flights to Lisbon in July, which was not included in the countries to lift quarantine restrictions, rose in price by
84pc during the same period. America was also left off the green light list, and prices to New York rose by just 32pc.
For travel in two months’ time, prices for flights have barely budged, and in many cases are falling. For trips in September, the cost of flights to Athens has dropped by 40pc; travel to Milan is 30pc cheaper; and tickets to Berlin are 10pc less.