/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Asda phasing out multibuys – should other shops follow?

Buy one get one free crossed out on blackboard

Asda announced this week that it’s cutting down on bulk-buy offers such as ‘three for the price of two’ and ‘buy one, get one half price’. Would you like to see other supermarkets do the same?

Asda says it’s reducing the number of multibuy offers because it believes many shoppers are on tight budgets and can’t always afford to buy in bulk, but we know that’s not the only problem with these offers.

In a survey of Which? members last June, 84% told us they’d prefer a straight discount to a multibuy offer.

What you think of multibuys

You mentioned several problems with multibuys, including a feeling of having being ‘conned’ or ‘ripped off’ if you don’t take up the offer, being unable to use up perishable items before they go off, having nowhere to store them, and being concerned about how multibuys contribute to food waste and obesity problems.

We’ve also raised this issue many times before here in previous Conversations. When we talked about the ‘supermarket special offers that aren’t so special‘, Graham told us how confusing he finds them:

‘I shop at ASDA and practically every other week I’m having to do mental arithmetic in their store to check e.g. whether it’s cheaper to buy a 1.5 litre carton of fruit juice or two one litre cartons.’

But Sophie Gilbert says she steers clear to avoid being fooled:

‘I have always considered these “special offers” ploys to get me to the supermarket premises and never taken the bait. I go to the supermarket when I need to and buy the products I need. If they happen to be on special offer that day, great, if not, fine.’

Replace multibuys with reductions

Taking everything into consideration, it would be easy to celebrate the demise of multibuys. But on the other hand I save a lot through bulk discounts on items such as cheese and fruit juice that I get through quickly, and I don’t want to see those savings disappear.

If multibuys are going to be reduced, or eliminated entirely, then I want to see supermarkets replace them with proper price reductions. That way, shoppers who buy in bulk – such as large families – can continue to benefit, and those who like to buy less can join them.

Asda says it’s trying to bring down the number of special offers and is concentrating instead on offering lower prices across the board. If it follows through on that plan, then I certainly think it’ll be a change for the better. And hopefully other supermarkets will follow suit.

Are you pleased to hear about Asda’s plan or are you a multibuy fan? Should all supermarkets be phasing out multibuys or do you have a better solution?

Should other supermarkets follow Asda's lead and scrap multibuy offers?

Yes - they should just discount individual items (70%, 710 Votes)

I don't mind either way as long as the deals are good (24%, 244 Votes)

No - I like buying in bulk (6%, 62 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,020

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Sydney Baderman says:
3 March 2012

Have already commented against multi buy offers

Alan says:
4 March 2012

I am happy to buy long dated items such as cleaning products, alcohol, & household items, but not food as it is often wasted. I always check the ‘price by weight’ panel to ensure a good deal.

Don says:
4 March 2012

I am a recent widower and find if I buy offers the usual go bad before I can use them- hence they don’t become good value for money. I am therefore forced to buy the expencive one item.

I have no problem with marketing tactics to persuade me to buy more – to be expected in a consumer market in wealthy nations. What gets my goat is blatant misrepresentation like the ‘Best Value’ banners on large washing powders, when 2 smaller boxes would be cheaper. Without that banner it is borderline, but should still be avoided by the retailer is only for moral/ethical/environmental reasons where the additional packaging should mean it should cost more to buy two smaller items than one larger one.

Louise says:
4 March 2012

I used to buy the “buy one, get one free” items if it was something I used and wasn’t perishable. Recently I notice it is more likely to be “buy two, get one free” which exceeds the amount I wish to purchase due to extra initial cost and limited storage space. It seems as if we are being encouraged to buy more items per offer which I am not interested in.

jUDE says:
4 March 2012

I don’t even get to working out if it’s value for money sometimes as I often shop for a few items only and the last thing I want to do is be laden up with a lot more goods than I intended buying in the first place. I find it frustrating if I want to buy a particularly bulky or heavy item and it is on a 2 for 1 offer. If it is a good saving, I end up not buying it at all if I don’t think I can carry the extra items cos I then begrudge paying for the one item when there is a reasonable saving on two. It’s as if the supermarkets assume that everyone bulk buys.

Trisha says:
5 March 2012

We are fortunate in having good storage space and a large chest freezer. Multi-buys represent good value for my husband and myself and save considerably on journeys to the supermarket. We would not usually buy fresh fruit and vegetables on a ‘buy one get one free’ basis unless we knew that we would be eating them within their sell-by date.(Offers on summer fruits, for instance.). Our local grocery store has good offers if two packets of one make of cheese are bought – and they are always long dated.

I have to say that my husband is a more vigilant shopper than I am – and has certainly seem some offers which do not make sense.

Richard, Worcs says:
5 March 2012

Tesco offer, 4th March, on Copella Apple Juice: £1.45 per bottle, £3.00 for 2. I wonder if anyone fell for it.

Janet Dore says:
6 March 2012

Monday 5th March Tesco 6 tins of beans – offer price £3.14. 4 tins of beans £2.00. This is a comon practice in Tesco’s stores.

Matt says:
5 March 2012

I’m sick to death of all the promotions, coupons and store cards. I just see them all as me being made to subsidise somebody elses shopping. I’ve made that complaint before to the manager when I’ve been given coupons. I just want straight, simple prices, which would no doubt be much cheaper if they didn’t waste all this money on marketing. I don’t want to have to waste time thinking about coupons, I don’t want to keep being asked for a bl**dy store card that I will never have. Whenever my nostrils fill with the freshly cooked bread fumes that are deliberately pumped through the air con system I just think to myself that is Tesco/Asda/Sainsburys/Morrisons saying they hate me – they’d rather hypnotise me into buying some doughnuts I don’t need and one day give me diabetes than lose a few pence off their profits. Same with all the sweets near the tills, they’d rather my children lose their teeth and become obese than lose any of their precious money.

Arch Decon says:
5 March 2012

I think multi-buys are fine if it is on non-perishable items.
Multi-buys on perishable foods like fruit and veg should be against the law as it encourages waste, peanalises small and single person housholods.
If the supermarkets have overstocking problems or genuinly want to help customers the offer should be half price: not two for the price of one.

I could not agree more.

Geminii says:
6 March 2012

The supermarkets prefer us to stock their products for them; we give them our hard-earned cash months in advance of us using the goods; I have recently had a clear-out and found cleaning products that outlast the bottles – which bio-degrade – and now reguarly ignore the BOGOF lines. In addition, I now regularly visit the “Pounds Stores” because they sell most of what the supermarkets try to offload on us at a fraction of the price.

Edward Crooks says:
7 March 2012

At one time I gave supermarkets the benefit of the doubt on these offers, not thinking that they do things that suit themselves, not the consumer. An example – I used to buy a particular brand of pate from a well known supermarket. It went missing from the shelves for about a week. When I saw it next the price had jumped from 59p to 85p for the same pack. Several weeks later it was on offer(!) at 2 packs for £1.50. I have never even looked at a multi offer again. I do, however, buy short dated items offered for sale at the end of the day. I am prepared to accept that, as long as I keep them well chilled they will be good for more than a day and consume them within three days.

Tom says:
8 March 2012

You can bet your bottom dollar that once the initial reductions have been made it’ll be
in no time before the so called reductions climb back to their previous or higher level.
Don’t be conned by all this waffle from the supermarkets that they’re helping their customers
get better value, the only thing that their interested in is getting more punters through their
doors to maintain their profit margins and to get a bigger slice of the cake. Remember that it not.been for the advent of Aldi,Lidl etc. which shook the big guys up we would still be getting ripped
off by the big supermarkets. How can a 25p pastry brush jump to over £1 and despite denials of collusion that price change happened in a few of the big boys.
If you really want to save money and keep the big boys on their toes then shop in Aldi or Lidl and only use the others to top up what you couldn’t get in either Aldi or Lidl.
Don’t let the lack of known “brand names” put you off as the quality of goods on offer is on a par or even better than the brand names. Fruit and veg is very reasonably priced with top quality produce. Vote with your feet and SAVE MONEY

Craig says:
2 April 2012

BOGOFs and multi-buys should be curtailed or outright banned (as in other countries) because they are so wasteful, and unfair (and make my brain hurt when I try to work them out!). What is particularly objectionable is their prevalance on perishable goods, which clearly encourages food waste e.g. it’s not possible to buy any fresh meat in my small local store (who pretend to be ethical) without either paying over the top for one, or buying two or three packets which I do not need and which can’t fit in my freezer.

Mike Hibbert says:
11 April 2021

11/04/2021 If Asda are removing bulk buy discounts why do they still offer them but not provide the discount. Is this not illegal?

Mike – This Conversation is over nine years old now and a lot has changed in supermarket shopping over the period. The Intro reported that Asda said it was “reducing the number of multibuy offers because it believed many shoppers were on tight budgets and could not always afford to buy in bulk . . .” It didn’t say Asda would be removing all bulk buy offers.

If Asda are still offering ‘buy one get one half price’ or ‘three for two’ multi-buys then the combination price should reflect the unit price reduction. There could be a difference between multi-buys [priced at the shelf] and bulk buys [priced by the till at the checkout].

Looking back through this Conversation, it seems that the balance of opinion was in favour of scrapping multi-buys. I don’t know what Which? made of the responses as there was no feedback.

I have checked the Asda website and they are offering discounts. Maybe they should read their own words about helping those on tight budgets.

I remember reading that Aldi don’t do multi buy discounts but that may have changed.