MERCADONA has recorded losses of nearly 95% in March, it claims are due the coronavirus crisis.
The supermarket giant insists the slump is due to a 25% increase in costs, including for logistics, PPE (personal protective equipment) and ensuring the care and security of its staff.
It comes as many regular shoppers at the supermarket insist that prices have not only gone up but that the chain also appears to be doing far better than most other businesses, including supermarkets.
However, Mercadona claims to have spent millions on installing checkout screens in all of its 1,634 stores, as well as introducing hand sanitiser units and issuing PPE to all of its staff and employed external security guards.
In addition, at the beginning of March, the company invested €44 million to give its staff a 20% pay increase to compensate them for their extra effort and risk in continuing to work during the pandemic.
It also hired an extra 600 new personnel to combat the panic-buying that characterised the start of the lockdown and to ensure the smooth running of its stores.
All these measures were estimated to have cost the company an extra €100 million, almost 25% more than the same period last year.
According to the company, a total of €15 million was spent on disinfection and a further €60 million on adapting the stores.
The massive investment has all but cancelled out the 14% increase in sales in March due to consumers purchasing extra items for their home.
Industry experts added that although consumer buying during March increased, many of the items that were targeted were basic, low margin items such as cleaning products and toilet rolls.
The Olive Press has attempted to verify these claims this week, finding that many items appear to have gone up in price at Mercadona in recent weeks.
In particular, meat has gone up in price, as have other luxury items, such as smoked salmon.
One local estate agent, Adam Neale, from Terra Meridiana in Estepona poured doubt on the claims.
He said: “I find it hard to believe that with everyone locked down and spending more money than ever on luxury ingredients at supermarkets that this can be true.
“On top of that, as it is not a public company it is very hard to verify.”