Monday, 30 June 2008

Supermarket price wars - good news or bad news?

Being slightly out of the loop over in France the latest round of supermarket price cuts had passed me by so thanks to regular contributor career misfit for dropping me a line to point them out.

At one level it's obviously good news that the big four are reacting to the low prices being charged by Lidl and Aldi but canny shoppers will need to be careful. In my experience what supermarkets offer with one hand (usually at the expense of their suppliers) they take with another so for every bargain you spot watch out for a price rise. As I pointed out recently it wasn't so long ago that Tesco, to take one example, was charging over £1 for a single red pepper. Of course any 'reduction' looks brilliant by comparison.

We've been here before with 20p loaves and 9p cans of beans, attention-grabbing offers on which supermarkets are happy to take a loss to entice you through their doors. Fine if you just snap up the bargain. Less good if you meander through the aisles randomly picking up other bits and pieces without keeping a sharp eye open as to whether you're being overcharged for them. If grapes are just 50p for 500g for example as they were at the weekend at Asda what price are they charging for raspberries? (Actually I've just checked that. £1.98 for 170g or £11.65 a kilo which proves my point . . .)

It's also worth remembering (at the risk of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs) that supermarkets don't automatically have the best prices. I'm sure I could beat the £1.88 that Morrisons is apparently asking for 454g of strawberries according to the Daily Record and if you're seriously trying to cut back why buy rump steak even if they're only charging £8.98 a kilo for it?

It's getting to the stage where you need a degree in maths to go shopping.

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