Mercadona and other large supermarkets are “making money”, in the opinion of Podemos, due to inflation and for not transferring the recent drop in VAT.
If we look at today’s CPI data, especially in some sectors such as food, it is clear, as a Galician like me, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, says, that there is someone here who is getting rich and something must be done here.
The second vice president of the Government, Yolanda Díaz, slipped this reaction on Friday at the UGT Confederal Days of Union Action minutes after the National Institute of Statistics confirmed that the shopping basket became more expensive year after year by 15.7 percent .
The percentage generates more rejection when crossed with the rest of the measurements that have to do with inflation. And it is that it compares with a general price rate (CPI) of 5.7 percent and with 7 percent of the underlying tranche -excludes the most volatile products: unprocessed food and energy-.
In other words, in Spain what became more expensive in December was the most essential for day to day.
The distribution sector interpreted Díaz’s reaction as a warning of what is to come: the already dubbed “Mercadona tax”. The vice president, recall the sources consulted, was the first member of the Sánchez Executive to put specific taxes for banks and energy companies on the table.
Statements casting doubt on the honesty of supermarkets continued over the weekend, with statements by Ione Belarra defending price intervention.
On Monday the escalation raised the tone. Belarra pointed out without subterfuge the owner of Mercadona, Juan Roig. The social rights minister said with a microphone in hand that he was “indecent.” The proper names that Díaz avoided pronouncing were no longer necessary to deduce.
The matter generated a new episode of division in the government coalition. The PSOE, through Pilar Alegría, spoiled the tone of its partners.
The controversy was the subject of debate in Espejo Público on Tuesday. The analysts present on the program focus on the criminalization of Roig and the rest of the businessmen in the sector that these statements by two government representatives imply. And it is that accusations are promulgated without evidence. And, if there are any, the Government has instruments, such as the State Attorney General’s Office, to open the investigations that proceed and avoid gratuitous reputational damage.
But apart from the political debate, is it true that Mercadona is “earning” from inflation? In a free market economy like Spain’s, with an accessible network of competitors and various price observatories -such as the OCU- in all sectors the answer should be the same.
Companies have the same freedom to apply the prices they want as customers to choose where to buy.
If the big businessmen do not question the legitimacy of the government’s excess collection due to the additional VAT that inflation brings – some 40,000 million more than normal – the Executive should not worry about what the companies do while it is legal.
In any case, a Digital Economy study ensures that Mercadona earns 2.6 euros for every 100 it bills. By contextualizing this figure, it can be seen how the numbers dismantle the political discourse.
Inditex earns 10 per 100, while in the case of banks that figure improves to 20. There are few sectors with lower margins than supermarkets. Among the few exceptions, there is another group of companies also with a constant focus on their activity: the airlines.
A well-run bar has a higher margin than the most efficient company in Europe, Ryanair.