Friday, 31 October 2014

Beers and Spirits comp: Tesco £50.14, ASDA £48.55, Sainsbury's £58.30, Morrisons £51.37

First beers and spirits comp, top line results:

Tesco £50.14
ASDA £48.55
Sainsbury's £58.30
Morrisons £51.37

Similar story to the rest of the comps, Asda leading on value with Tesco and Morrisons not too far behind, however, Sainsbury's continue to be totally out of line on price across virtually every category. Brands in the basket included lower range lagers Fosters and Carlsberg as well as premium brands such as Peroni. In Spirits I compared the category leader of Whiskey, Vodka and Gin. Interestingly 3 out of the 4 are selling the same £15 for 1L on a large selection of branded spirits - this is a good deal and worth checking out. Full table below:

Comp Shop completed 1/11/14 using data from, and

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Morrisons Match and More - the dishonest truth

Morrisons has recently launched their new loyalty scheme nationwide - a card called Match and More. The card promises to price match your shop from any of the major 4 retailers plus Aldi and Lidl, if  your shop could have been cheaper elsewhere they will refund the difference with a voucher when you reach £5 (5000 points). 

Advertising in Morrisons Store

On the face of it, it seems like a great deal for customers and sounds like a costly deal for Morrisons, why would you ever shop anywhere else? 

Well here comes the fine print. 

The minimum spend of £15 to quality and excluding M Local are clearly stated and sound reasonable, however it is how they price match which may lead to confusion. This is a question of comparison, and as I have discussed in previous posts, setting the criteria of what you consider a like for like product can dramatically alter the results of the comp - and it looks like Morrisons are doing exactly that. 

1) Branded products - "Branded products are matched, as long as Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Aldi and Lidl sell the same brand, same product variant and within 20% of the same size." Since the majority of promotions at Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda involve "buy one get one free" or "2 for 1" this will almost always put the pack size to over 20% of Morrisons offer hence it will not be counted as a like-for-like product. This is an underhand way of saying price match does not match the vast majority of promotions.

For example in the post I did earlier showing a comp of essential branded non-food basket of goods see here Morrisons came out at £35.22 compared with Asda at £31.82

You or I might think Morrisons should owe me £3.4 right? Wrong, according to Morrisons they owe you 10p, thats right, just 10p across the whole basket! This is because the only product on the list where Asda sold a pack size within 20% of Morrisons was the Persil washing powder all other products were "not comparable". The Finsh dishwasher tablets where Morrisons were £1.75 more, not comparable according to Morrisons - Asda's pack was 72 tablets compared to Morrisons 34. This was repeated across the basket and effectively makes Morrisons card worthless on branded products. This is misleading customers and could backfire. 

2) Own branded products - It is even more subjective when defining what two products are like-for-like on own-branded products. Here are the critera set out on their website:

  • Product description and pack size (eg Apple Pie 400g vs Family Apple Pie 800g)
  • Flavour (eg Cherry Cola vs Cola)
  • Colour (eg Red Peppers vs Green Peppers)
  • Any specific dietary requirements that are detailed on the product (eg Gluten Free Sliced Bread 800g vs Farmhouse Sliced Loaf 800g)
  • Primary and secondary ingredients (eg Beef & Vegetable Pie vs Chicken & Vegetable Pie)
  • Origin (eg British Lamb vs New Zealand Lamb)
  • Provenance (eg Organic eggs vs 6 Caged Eggs)
  • Storage conditions, (eg Frozen pizza vs chilled pizza)

All of these seem reasonable, they are right not to compare a British Chicken with one from Eastern Europe, except when you realise that with these criteria Morrisons could find a reason why any two products are not comparable, and I bet they do. For example Morrisons may sell French tomatoes and Asda sell Spanish, in the eyes (or mouths) of the customer most will see these as a comparable product - I bet Morrisons don't!. On top of this all own branded products are also subject to the same 20% sizing rule. 

Morrisons wanted the headline "We match Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Aldi and Lidl" but they did not want any of the costs associated with actually matching their offer, and they have delivered exactly that. 

Please comment below your thoughts on this card, read the rest of my blog The value club and please follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

See full details of this worthless card here:

Deal: 6 Bottles £25 range of wines

This is truly one of the best offers I have ever seen, it is clearly a loss making stunt, take advantage of it, but be quick because this will not last long.

Asda 6 for £25 on selected wines
Full list of wines included in the offer:

  • Jacob's Creek Sauvignon Blanc
  • Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Campo Viejo Garnacha
  • Cortebella Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie
  • Wolf Blass Red Label Chardonnay Semillon
  • Kumala Collection Chardonnay Semillon
  • Jacob's Creek Merlot
  • ASDA Extra Special Shiraz
  • jacob's Creek Chardonnay
  • Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet
  • Jacob's Creek Shiraz
  • Casillero Del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc
  • Hardy's Stamp Shiraz Cabernet
  • ASDA Extra Special Malbec
  • Spumante Extra Dry Prosecco
  • Hardy's Stamp Cabernet
  • Blossom Hill White Zinfandel
  • ASDA Extra Special Viognier
  • Don Pelayo Reserva
  • Cellier des Dauphns Costieres de Nimes
  • ASDA Extra Special Pinot Grigio
  • ASDA Extra Special Barbera D’Asti
  • Kumala Cellar Collection Merlot Pinotage
  • Calvet la Fleur Baron Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Campo Viejo Tempranillo
  • Barefoot Pinot Grigio

Non-Food essentials comp: Tesco £34.67, ASDA £31.82, Sainsbury's £36.51, Morrisons £35.22

Non-food essentials comp shop, top line results:

Tesco £34.67
ASDA £31.82
Sainsbury's £36.51
Morrisons £35.22

The basket included only branded items including Fairy, Colgate, Head and Shoulders, Finish, Persil and Gillette.

Quick note about pack sizes used for comparisons, currently I always use the cheapest price per unit pack size the retailer offers - this is something I may look at changing in the future, most probably by putting a cap on the pack size, for example when comping free range eggs I may accept a pack size of between 1 - 15 and I will select the cheapest of the options, anything over 15 will be considered a different item - I believe this will more accurately represent value each retailer offers for the customer. Secondly in previous comps I have selected the master-pack size (this is the size in which all offerings are prorated up or down for for comparison) fairly randomly, usually to give each product roughly equal weighing across the comp. However in this comp I have used the smallest available pack size for each item as the master-pack. This changed the outcome of the comp significantly but I think it gives a more accurate reflection of what customers should except to pay, however it does give unequal weighing across different products, in particular Persil and Gillette.

Comp Shop completed 30/10/14 using data from, and

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Deal: Lanson Black Label 75Cl

First just a quick introduction to the deal posts. With the thousands of promotions on at any one time, it is easy to miss the few very good deals. I look at retail prices every day, and I will often come across exceptional promotions, often where items are almost certainly being sold at a loss. In these series of posts, I aim to highlight only the most exceptional value offers.

This first offer - although is not an essential item, it is none the less a complete steal.

Lanson Black Label 75 cl £16.99
Offer until 4/11/14

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Morrisons Promotion Prices

While I was at Morrisons today I noticed a huge number of promotions, it seemed like more than usual. This surprised me because Morrisons have been saying for months how they are scaling back promotion activity, and the few they do will be more meaningful. 

Well I thought I should put it to the test, so I jotted down the promotion prices on a 6 items the were advertising as better than half price, and I have compared the price of this 6 item basket across the big 4 - Surely Morrisons must beat the competition on this one, the basket is certainly in their favour. 

Comp Shop completed 28/10/14 using data from, and in Morrisons Store
Well no, not quite, 3rd place in fact. One thing I must note in defence of Morrisons was that the majority of these products were on promotion at the other stores at the same time. However it does seem on the face of it they are not following through on their promise of fewer more meaningful promotions. 

Essential Comp: Tesco £20.78, ASDA £20.90, Sainsbury's £23.48, Morrisons £21.28

In a slight change of approach from the previous comp shop I have decided to do a category comp every couple of days. For example a basket of essentials or Household or Health and Beauty etc. I hope to get a standard basket of goods for each category which I can re-comp every week, so we will be able track prices over time on a like-for-like basis. 

The first in this series is Food Essentials. This basket of goods contains a mix of the most basic products. I tried to balance the basket with a mixture of produce, meat and staples. Of course comping items like produce and meat is always difficult as guaranteeing the products are of like-for-like quality is not always easy. For example supermarkets will vary in the amount of trim left of the chicken breast fillets, these potential differentiators do mean that caveats do apply when looking at a comp like this, however as you can see the majority of the products in the basket of goods are directly comparable across all supermarkets. 

As always, in order of market share the top line results were as follows

Tesco £20.78
ASDA £20.90
Sainsbury's £23.48
Morrisons £21.28

Interestingly Tesco coming out cheapest and Asda a close second, the opposite to many of the headlines recently. Morrisons not too far behind, however Sainsbury's (who have not yet reacted to the price cuts happening across the industry) was £2.70 more expensive than Tesco across a very basic basket of goods, this shows how out of sync they are on price. 

Comp Shop completed 28/10/14 using data from, and  

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Jaffa Cakes

Today I did a buy in of Jaffa cakes sold by all the main UK retailers Tesco,  Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, M&S, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl. In total there were 17 different brands ranging from M&S premium to value brands - the prices and tastes were compared to determine the best value. 

Jaffa Cake market in the UK

Of course the packs came in different sizes so all were converted to 300g to allow a comparisons in price, and each one was blind tested by 3 people and given a score out of 5, this score was averaged to get a rating. The value was then determined by combining these two factors to get a percentage score with 100% being perfect. 

The quality difference was surprising, ranging from stale and inedible to delicious. Lidl Sondey brand surprisingly was the best tasting Jaffa Cake out of the 17, with the highest score, the cake element was soft, and the topping was more of a jam than a jelly - it was delicious, this was also one of the cheapest cakes so so the clear winner in Value also. 

Lidl Sondey brand Jaffa Cake - Delicious
Lidl Sondey brand Jaffa Cake - Delicious

The two Tesco options and Asda (Chosen by you) were next in taste (the three were identical - looked the same, tasted the same, same ingredients and made in the same factory) - so buy the Everyday Value. 

The M&S premium Jaffa cake was different, the topping was Passion fruit and Peach flavored and very nice - but more expensive. 

M&S Passion fruit and Peach Jaffa Cake
M&S Passion fruit and Peach Jaffa Cake

Mcvitties came in middle of the pack  in price and reasonably high in taste, however as market leaders you would have expected them to perform better. 

Many of the cheaper options which scored lower ratings were stale and had very little topping - this included M Saver, Asda smart price, Aldi essentials, Morrisons mid-range, Sainsbury's basic and surprisingly also Cadburys - most of these had identical ingredients and the only difference was the varying degree of staleness - Although these are cheap, they are foul and I would not recommend buying these.  

Lastly the Gulten free, and weight watchers cakes were described as "weird" and "awful" in the blind test, however taste is not their selling point (clearly!). 

Gluten free Jaffa Cake - Weird

Weight Watchers Jaffa Cake - Awful

Here is a look at each of the packaging in no particular order:

Tesco Mid-Range Jaffa Cakes £0.83 
M&S Mini Jaffa Cakes £2.20

Tesco Every Day Value Jaffa Cakes £0.95

McVittie's Jaffa Cakes £1.59

Morrisons Saver Jaffa Cakes £0.40

Kelkin Gluten free Jaffa Cakes £1.80

M&S Passion fruit and peach Jaffa Cakes £1.39
Morrisons Mid-Range Jaffa Cakes £0.65

Sainsbury Mid-Range Jaffa Cakes £0.80

Aldi Belmont Jaffa Cakes £0.95

Asda Smart Price Jaffa Cakes £0.40

Aldi everyday essential Jaffa Cakes £0.40

Asda Chosen by you Jaffa Cakes £0.69

Sainsbury's Basic Jaffa Cakes £0.50

Cadbury Jaffa Cakes £1

Weight Watchers Jaffa Cakes £1.19

Lidl Sondey Jaffa Cakes £0.95

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Comparable Shop across UK retail

I have put together a shop of 21 branded commonly brought products and compared the price at the 4 largest supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's. Here is the table:

Asda the cheapest, next Tesco, then Morrisons and Sainsbury's the most expensive. These products where chosen to be directly comparable between stores so there is no excuse for price variation. 

Meanwhile Aldi and Lidl stock fewer of these items, but I did manage to check out some of the prices they had, see table for Lidi prices:

As you can see, on branded products Lidl is more expensive than Asda, Tesco and Morrisons on the same basket of goods, of course it is their own brands where they can really show a saving. Interestingly on this basket Tesco's is slightly cheaper than Asda - which shows there is very little price difference on branded products between the two. 

Aldi meanwhile had even fewer branded items, of the entire list they only had Carlsberg, Marmite, marolade, McVitie's and the Semi skimmed milk, on this basket they were £6.39, still 10p more than Asda on the same basket. 

Branded products sold nationwide are usually chosen to compare prices as they are directly comparable across a range of stores, however I will attempt compare own-branded products. 

Ps Here is a comparison of the how busy the Aldi store was compared with a Tesco express next door - tells the story of UK retailing at the moment.

Here is the Aldi - not rammed - but plenty of people.

and here is Tesco (same time, same place)...

Comp shop 04/10/14