Supermarket costs ‘rise despite price war’
The much-vaunted price war is not benefiting shoppers, according to our latest survey, with many saying they actually pay more for goods now.
Image: MArtin Keene - PA Wire
Shoppers are not benefiting the highly-publicised supermarket 'price war', with many customers claiming they are actually paying more.
Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's have all announced major price cuts in their stores in the last month, and we wanted to find out what impact this was having on shoppers' bills.
We polled around 1,500 MSN Money users to gauge their opinions and, remarkably, almost seven in 10 (69%) said they were now paying more than before. Just one in 20 (5%) said they were enjoying lower bills, while roughly a quarter (26%) said they had noticed no difference in terms of overall costs.
What the supermarkets are claiming
Let's take a quick look at what deals the supermarkets have announced. First up, Tesco pledged £500 million for its Big Price Drop, which it said would see costs of 3,000 products slashed, including essentials like milk and bread.
Sainsbury's followed suit by announcing its Brand Match campaign, in which it promises to refund the difference in vouchers if a shopper is able to buy branded (ie, non-Sainsbury's) goods cheaper at Asda or Tesco.
Asda then waded in with a £5 voucher for anyone shopping at the store, as well as a wide range of price cuts.
It all sounded like great news for hard-pressed shoppers, but it remains unclear how much they are benefiting - if at all.
Tesco already embarrassed
While most MSN users feel like they're losing out at the till, our findings also seem to be backed up by research from the Grocer magazine.
The publication carried out a mystery shop on a basket of 33 staples at Tesco and found that the bill was actually £1.34 more expensive than it had been before its Big Price Drop.
It was embarrassing for the supermarket and disappointing for customers in equal measure.
If you don't feel you can rely on your supermarket to cut costs in these difficult times, you should take matters into your own hands. Read our guide to cutting the cost of your supermarket shop.
its not just the supermarkets though, its also top brands, giving you less but asking more, take for instance the humbled mars bar, well known fact it dropped its weight from 62.5g to 58g yet the price went up in the stores? so effectively paying more for less.
Mars isn't the only one to do this either. daylight robbery if you ask me.
All supermarkets should be required by law to issue weekly statements of the number of price drops and the value.
But they must also include the number of price rises and the value.
Supermarkets should be stopped from advertising false half price sales such as strawberries that have been going on for 5 months.
Whilst it is the point of business to earn money (Supermarkets as well), imo we have become so used to believing what the big Shops tell us that we often blindly buy on the advice they present us with (for example this item now half price). When we consider this we would not necessarily believe a used car salesman or estate agent (random professions) if they claimed we were presented with £1000 off or the "deal of a lifetime".
Where the supermarkets differ is that often what may be regarded as "tradesmans puff" or simply an "invitation to treat" becomes blurred with misrepresentation which can go unchallenged. As an example certain 1kg boxes are branded as "Best value" when in fact a smaller 750g box represents better value (in this case 29p per 100g rather than 26p per 100g for the smaller box).
We need to take care to establish whether such labeling as 47p each or 2 for £1 is illegal but also take care to work out what we need as compared with what we are told we want. Whilst the supermarkets have an obligation to us the consumer, careful scrutiny of your shopping is also a must.
When all is said and done, tell the supermarket about mistakes and ultimately vote with your feet. (CAUTION - tell an organ grinder rather than a monkey otherwise you will be met simply with oh yeah strange that). Often "the system" is blamed but this is not acceptable.
Bigger is not always better (I have dozens of examples) but as in many cases the adverts are simply tradesmans puff so we have little recourse other than not to buy. In extreme cases of misrepresenation speak to a manager nicely and you may get a helpful polite response or even a sticker for 50p off.
Why not make your shopping a mini maths quiz for your children, they help you keep down costs as well as learning valuable life lessons about sales and maths. Maybe this is why the big shops do it.
On a final note, half price items are often artificially inflated for a period before going on "Sale" this is common for sofas, electrical and now sadly supermarkets. In these ostere (spelling phonetic) times we should think what we need more and what we or others want a little less.
Any benefit "given" to the shopper by way of special offers can be recouped by putting a few pence per item round a store. I have spotted that some of the Sainsbury's own range "Basics" of non-food items have increased by several pence per item since VAT increased - the price increase being beyond the rise in VAT. If those items I have noted are sold daily throughout the country any "give-aways" are recouped. There are probably many such items others buy regularly. There can be no price comparisons with other supermarkets on own ranges. I am sure they are all doing it on own ranges.
I suppose the best discount of all is to buy some shares in whichever supermarket you frequent!
There is a supermarket price comparison tool on the web. My wife used it and realised we were still better off going to Costco instead. www.mysupermarket.co.uk
Everything apart from wages have gone up so we are all living that bit closer to the breadline than before.
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