Iceland supermarket manifesto

Source: Iceland Foods

Walker (third from left) held the first of the monthly customer panels at Iceland’s Deeside HQ in April

Iceland Foods shoppers say the cost of living crisis is the critical political issue facing Britain ahead of the coming general election, according to the latest findings from the supermarket’s political survey.

The frozen grocer has been collecting the views of its shoppers in monthly sit-down panels and online surveys since April, with the aim to compile what executive chairman Richard Walker called a “supermarket manifesto” to be presented to government.

Of the 2,800 Iceland shoppers who responded to the latest survey, 93% said that they had suffered with the cost of living crisis over the past year. Of those, 65% did not feel that business leaders nor the current government were doing enough about it.

A lack of funding for public services was another issue identified by Iceland shoppers, with 82% saying they felt NHS waiting times had increased over the past 12 months. Immigration was also a critical concern for shoppers.

Although Iceland, along with its Food Warehouse brand, is typically billed as a budget supermarket, Walker has previously pointed out that the brand’s three million customers represent a diverse spectrum of shoppers. Therefore, it represented a good gauge of the British public sentiment, he argued.

Iceland announced its manifesto plans prior to Rishi Sunak’s decision in May to call a general election on 4 July. Iceland shoppers also shared their views on some of the major policy headlines, including the Conservatives’ pledge to reintroduce national service – 48% of Iceland shoppers said they felt this was a good idea. However, 32% of the store’s shoppers remain undecided about who they will vote for.

The supermarket has not said how it intends to publish the manifesto, but said it would now be presented to major parties ahead of the general election.

“We’re 23 days away from what is expected to be a historical election that will shake up Westminster – but it means little to the real people of Britain if they don’t feel represented by any of the major political parties,” Walker said of the latest findings.

“I’ve listened to our customers and colleagues up and down the country on the issues that matter most to them – cost of living, access to public services and overall dissatisfaction with government and business leaders. Our manifesto is about making sure they feel heard in all of the noise generated by this general election.

“These issues highlighted in this latest survey will help to shape and finalise our manifesto. We will be sharing our work with all major political parties this month to bring high street realism to Westminster,” he added.

Walker is no stranger to political making statements. He previously applied to be selected as a candidate to stand for election for the Conservatives. However, he publicly switched to Labour in October 2023, claiming the Tories had “drifted out of touch with business and the economy”.

His father, Iceland founder Malcolm Walker, who was a long-term Tory supporter, was also among 121 business leaders to publicly put their weight behind Keir Starmer’s Labour Party in an open letter published in The Times in May.