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

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business -

‘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.

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