/ 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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MrsS says:
2 March 2012

Bulk buys on non-perishable item can make for a good deal . However on non – perishable items fruit – vegetables – meats etc . when you are only buying for one person , there is no way you can use the items before they are past their best . We therefore do without rather than buy them and throw half or more away. I would prefer lower prices on idividual items after all if you can buy 2 x 100g of blueberries for £2 why not 1 for £1 .

Sheila Woolley says:
2 March 2012

I think Marks and Spencers are the worst for this type of offer, as so much of their food is fresh and a single person can’t use the food before it’s gone off.

Sidburt says:
2 March 2012

Absolutely right. I am disappointed that M & S seem to be in the vanguard for this sort of promotion.

Sidburt says:
2 March 2012

M & S are selling tangerines at 2 for £3 or singly at £2 which means you are highly motivated to buy more than you really wanted. A 33.3% discount takes a lot of ignoring. I am eating oranges as fast as I can.

That’s a 25% discount of 50p off £2.00.

It’s not good for the elderly or for small households, who often can’t use up fresh items before they go off. I’m sure there’s a lot more waste food as a result.

Jean Symons says:
2 March 2012

I was pleased to see you are questioning this practise. It is frustrating for single person household especially as I quite often resist buying
things I really want! Especially hard on pensioners.

Paddy Murphy says:
2 March 2012

Like many other comments I am a single person and the offer is something with a short shelf life it is often a no,no. And if you want just one then you end up paying over the odd’s.

James says:
2 March 2012

Yes! It’s especially irritating when applied to food that goes off quickly. I don’t want to buy 2 cartons of strawberries or bunches of bananas, because I have enough trouble making sure the family eats up one before it starts to deteriorate. If that’s how I feel, how much more so for smaller households.

bellwater says:
2 March 2012

They should all stop trying to con us out of our money. I think honest trading would be a breath of fresh air, I have no trust in any of them.

Colin says:
2 March 2012

You would think we’d never been better off, it’s not just supermarkets , we are been bombarded from all sides with fake discounts. Everything is “half price” or up to “70% off”. You never see half price bus fares or utilities like gas, electricity, telephone services, water etc etc for obvious reasons. If shops are selling us practically everything at half price now, have they been robbing us in the past?

Jane says:
2 March 2012

I am also tired of multibuy offers particularly for perishable goods. I do not buy them if I really only want of one of a particular item,but sometimes this reduces choice e.g. our local Co-op had all their packaged ham on multibuy so buy it go without.

Tony C says:
2 March 2012

Multi-buy offers induce wateful buying if they are used on perishable goods. They should be legally banned on any goods with a shelf-life of less than (say) a month.

Lower prices for larger pack-sizes can be justified by economies at the retailer and manufacturer, but if products are not multi-packed then multi-buys cannot be justified – they are subsidies to those who buy them at the expense of others who buy what they actually need, but there is probably no case for banning them – just public awareness that the firms are cross-subsiding between customers.

Joy War Baby says:
2 March 2012

3 for 1 are a menace. They are there to deplete supermarket over stocked items and exist to clutter family freezers only to be unloaded 1 in 3 into the wheelie bin.

Want to compliment the Nation’s health? – offer smaller t.v. dinner portions with reduced price vegetable packages.

But that would take Supermarket ‘Integrity’ …which one will be first,?

al_cole says:
2 March 2012

I live in a household of two and am happy with multibuys where the goods have a long shelf life, eg toothpaste, but for foodstuff it leads to waste. What is the use of an offer “buy one and get the second at half price” for potatoes, pineapples etc , All that happens is that most of the second item goes into the green bin. Waste would be significantly reduced if multiple offers on goods with short self lives was stopped.

Lupin says:
3 March 2012

Only one advantage to perishable multi-buys – they encourage neighbourliness! I’m a single person & so is my neighbour, so if 2 for 1 is being offered on a perishable item I intended to buy any way, I take the other and give it to my neighbour (and visa versa).

Barry Morse says:
3 March 2012

To summarise the comments so far, morons and idiots who are susceptible to advertising should avoid multibuys. However, provided you know what things ought to cost can read a sell-by date, would buy the stuff anyway (whether it be pile-friendly bog paper, whisky, mouthwash, or even perishable stuff that you can put in the freezer) and are aware of the opportunity cost of doing so, why on earth not take advantage of multibuys? For years, those of us who pay off our credit cards in full every month have been subsidised by the feckless who don’t. What’s the difference?

Barry Morse says:
3 March 2012

Sorry! Please insert a comma after “ought to cost” in the previous rant!

If in kilo or per 100g, moving the decimal point shdn’t be difficult
to enable a price comparison.

Judy says:
3 March 2012

I think that all supermarkets and stores should do away with all these gimmicky ideas such as 3 for 2, buy 1 and get 1 half price, buy 1 and get 1 free etc. Instead they should all charge honest, reasonable prices for the goods purchased. They would probably, by the end of the month, end up selling the same amount of any item.

Also, when it comes to “buy one get one free” on fresh fruit and veg, it is invariably because the item is less than first class quality and they are trying to get rid of it – it ends up being a false economy as one ends up having to throw some of it away!

The other frustrating thing about all these offers is that, when they have these promotions, there are people who just buy whatever is on offer on the day they shop, meaning that people who only use certain brands are very often unable to buy their favoured one as it is all gone.

No problem buying large amounts if really good offers including
of perishables, just freeze for future use, in the case of fruit and veg,
refresh in water if necessary for similar storage including
blanching before, again if necessary. Other preserving methods
including drying, pickling ,salting ecetera done long before the days of
modern refrigeration.

Supermarkets don’t charge fair, honest prices
as not in keeping with basic principle/aim of maximising
profits for shareholder returns.

Leeks cost £2.67 a kilo at Sainsburys where
just across the road at greengrocer was
£1.29 and every bit as fresh. 3 mangoes for
£1.20 that wd cost £1.00 each at Sainsburys for
similar size ones. I cd go on and on.