One of the main concerns when doing the weekly shop is which store is the cheapest place to buy everything that you need. Due to promotional offers or stock levels, prices can vary amongst supermarkets. Luckily for customers, the consumer rights organization Which? regularly analyses which supermarket is the cheapest. Their monthly and annual comparisons can help customers to save money by shopping with the cheapest retailer at the current time.
The Cheapest Supermarket of 2018
At the end of last year, Which? concluded that the cheapest supermarket overall was Morrisons. Rival supermarket Asda was not far behind. Both retailers consistently offered the lowest prices for the same goods throughout the year. At the other end of the scale, Waitrose was consistently the most expensive supermarket. Online-only retailer Ocado was usually the second most expensive. Other supermarkets which you might have expected to top the list of cheapest supermarkets, such as Tesco, are often more in the middle. Surprisingly, some supermarkets which you may expect to be on the more expensive end of the scale, like Sainsbury’s, are actually among the cheapest.
The Cheapest Supermarket of 2019
Morrisons secured the overall top spot for 2018, but almost halfway through 2019 it has only been the cheapest supermarket for 2 out of 5 months. While Asda began the year strong as the cheapest supermarket of January, it has yet to reach the top spot again. So far Sainsbury’s has also been the cheapest supermarket of the month twice. It seems like Morrisons and Sainsbury’s will be the top two contenders for the cheapest supermarket of the year in 2019. However, there are still 7 months left for Which? to analyse the cheapest supermarkets throughout the rest of 2019. Sainsbury’s had the cheapest prices overall so far. If it continues to do so then it could beat Morrisons.
Why the “cheapest supermarket” title isn’t definitive
However, there is a problem with these Which? rankings that you need to consider. They calculate the cheapest supermarket based on a basket full of branded goods. These usually involve popular items such as Cathedral City cheese, Hovis bread, Andrex toilet roll, and Colgate toothpaste. If you do not buy these branded goods, then the cheapest supermarket may not actually be the cheapest for what you intend to buy. The rankings only compare 6 major supermarkets: Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, and Waitrose. This means that the winner of Which?’s cheapest supermarket is not the cheapest supermarket in the UK, just the cheapest out of those 6. There are plenty of other factors to remember when you decide where to spend your money on groceries. As you should know, “cheapest” does not necessarily mean the “best value” products. Sometimes paying a little more gets more.
What about the best quality supermarket?
Many consumers have concerns about the quality of the goods they buy as well as the cost. Some shoppers would rather pay a bit extra for better quality than put up with lower quality to save a few pennies. Of course, it all depends on your budget and the products in question. It will take up some of your own time, but it could be worth it to check comparison site MySupermarket yourself. This is what Which? uses to compile its average data, so you can locate the best prices on the day you want to do your shopping. When Which? carried out a customer satisfaction survey, Waitrose actually came out on top, despite being the most expensive. This is because it offers the best quality and variety of products. Ocado was also the best quality supermarket for home delivery. While retailers like Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland offer the lowest prices, they also have limited products available which also tend to be of lower quality.
What about the best online supermarket?
Another factor which affects consumer choice in supermarkets is online shopping and delivery experience. While the cheaper retailers like Aldi and Lidl do not have an online store or home delivery services, plenty of the most popular supermarkets do. Their popularity is often due to the availability of delivery, which makes things more convenient. Obviously, it is an extra expense, but sometimes there are online-exclusive deals which can save you money. Lots of retailers also offer monthly or annual delivery passes, which make it cheaper if you frequently order shopping for delivery. Ocado offers the best quality when it comes to online shopping and delivery, but Morrisons is the cheapest supermarket for this. As one of the cheapest supermarkets overall, Morrisons is a customer favourite.
Tips to Make Your Shopping Cheaper
Even if comparisons and rankings tell you that one supermarket is the cheapest, it doesn’t mean that your shop will be cheap. There are ways to reduce the total cost of your shopping if you adjust your habits with the following tips.
- don’t shop when hungry – you will be tempted to buy snacks and food that you don’t actually need and haven’t included in your budget!
- downshift – this means that if you buy a premium brand, drop to the store’s own brand instead; or try the value brand to see if it’s the same quality
- look for vouchers – you will often find discount vouchers in newspapers, magazines, or online, which you can use to save money on branded items
- look for yellow stickers – reduction stickers usually appear if an item is slightly damaged or close to its best before date, but still fine to use
- abandon an online shop – if you leave items in your basket, the retailer is likely to e-mail you an offer within the next few days to encourage you to complete the purchase
- price match – ask if the retailer has a price matching promise and compare the prices of goods that you want to buy across other retailers to see if they are cheaper elsewhere
- join loyalty schemes – most retailers have reward programmes for frequent customers, such as Tesco Clubcard or Nectar, which will allow you to collect points as you spend and redeem them for vouchers
- consider cashback – there are websites which offer you cash back when you shop with certain retailers through them, so you could get money back on top of discount savings