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Skint shoppers are asking checkout staff to tell them when they hit £40 so they can put the rest of their food back on shelves, the boss of Iceland warned today.

Managing director Richard Walker said the discount chain is losing custom to food banks after a loaf of bread rose from 89p to £1.10 and milk prices shot up “quite dramatically”.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Everyone’s feeling the pinch but certainly the harder-pressed communities are feeling it more.”

Mr Walker said there is a “perfect maelstrom of inflationary pressures” – despite Rishi Sunak “stepping up” and “pulling the right levers” with a £650 payment for benefit claimants, and £400 off electricity bills.

He added many of the problems were global in nature, due to factors like the Ukraine war affecting wheat and oil.

A shopper in an Iceland in Dumfries (stock photo) ( Dumfries and Galloway Standard)

But he warned: “Generally, I think it is safe to say everyone is feeling the pinch now, it doesn’t matter who you are.

“We do serve some of the poorer demographics around the country.

“We are hearing stories of some of our custom disappearing to food banks.

“[Or] some customers when they are at the till asking the cashier when it amounts to 40 quid so that they can leave the rest of their shopping.”

Richard Walker, UK managing director for Iceland

He added: “The reality is there is no typical Iceland shopper, averages don’t work very well because we have people who come in and spend five quid and people who come in and spend £50.”

The Tory Chancellor opened his purse strings earlier than planned after warnings energy bills would hit £2,800 a year from October.

He unveiled £650 in two lots for people on benefits, and £400 for all households off energy bills, from July and October respectively.

The hated “buy now pay later” £200 discount off energy bills in October has been scrapped after an outcry.

Rishi Sunak opened his purse strings earlier than planned after warnings energy bills would hit £2,800 a year from October ( PA)

There will also £300 for pensioners and £150 for disabled people this autumn and winter.

Some of it will be funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas profits – but £10bn of the £15bn will be funded by borrowing despite the Chancellor repeatedly saying he could not borrow his way out of the crisis.

While Mr Sunak claimed the announcement was worth £15bn, it will actually cost £21bn in the long run because of the £200 loan being axed.

And insiders believe the huge giveaway might itself make inflation worse – something OBR forecasts may confirm later this year.

Mr Walker told Sky’s Sophie Ridge On Sunday: “I think the Government, the Chancellor in particular, has really stepped up and pulled the right levers.

“They already had over £20 billion of support before this additional £20 billion of latest packages so certainly huge intervention there by the Government and actually we have got to take a step back and realise a lot of these pressures are global in nature and outside of the influence of the Government of the day or businesses like ours.

“So I think they have done plenty, actually, for the general public and hopefully it will ease the pain and the burden as we get into the autumn as inflation may peak.

“There is a tonne of stuff I would like him (Mr Sunak) to do for business, I don’t know how he is going to afford it or we are all going to pay for it but, I think at the moment they are doing a good job.”

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