/ Food & Drink, Shopping

What influences you to spend more in the supermarket?

Do you ever find yourself stood in a supermarket, staring at the multitude of offers on display, desperately trying to work out whether any of it is value for money? I know I do…

I’d like to think I’m pretty good at grocery shopping – yep, I’m American ;-). I’m on a budget (saving for a wedding isn’t easy!), so I’m trying to eat out less and prepare my own food more.

It’s important to me to get the most for my money when I go to the supermarket. Unfortunately, sometimes that can be easier said than done. I really can’t tell whether those multi-buys are really worth the money.

Deal, or no deal?

I love a good deal, probably more than the next person, but I hate how hard it can be to tell if the “deal” I’m getting is good at all.

Things like ‘buy one, get one free’ offers when the price for one is £3, and I know that just a few weeks ago I could pick it up for only £1.50.

In April last year, we submitted a super-complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority about supermarkets’ pricing tactics.

The super-complaint called for retailers to stop using pricing tactics that mislead consumers and to make special offers just that, special, instead of sneaky tricks designed to make us think we’re getting a deal.

Research from the Money Advice Service this week says consumers typically spend £1,274 more than they intend to each year. Special offers have the biggest influence on shoppers with 76% of people spending an extra £11.14 in their shop due to these deals, whereas pestering children only influence 26% of shoppers but adds the most amount to the bill (£15.50). Hunger influences 59% and adds £10.87 to the shop, not making a list affects 49% with an extra £13.44, and tiredness impacts 22% of shoppers and costs an extra £13.94.

Pricing tactics

Everyone says you shouldn’t shop when you’re hungry, and I definitely believe it. But that’s sometimes hard to avoid.

I know most of the treats I end up buying aren’t on my mind before I start shopping, but it’s hard to resist when you head to the till and are faced with a huge display of Cadbury’s Giant Creme Eggs. Our investigation in 2014 revealed they were £10 in Tesco and Sainsbury’s in February. It was then on offer at £8 and £6.66 from March onwards in the lead-up to Easter.

This week there were changes starting to come through following our and the CMA’s work for consumers when Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco all announced they’ll be changing their practices, and we hope we’ll start seeing fewer dodgy offers on their shelves.

I shudder to think of how much money I’ve wasted over the years due to tempting offers. Offers that might have been misleading and ended up costing me more.

So how do you deal with these supermarket offers? What are the things that lead you into temptation at the supermarket? Do you find it hard to navigate special offers and figure out what the cheapest product really is?


Why can’t I just buy 1 unit at a good price? Why do I even have to bogof? Aren’t we supposed to be curbing our eating not buying 2 or more of everything? We are an increasingly obese nation. Hence why I stopped doing my main shop at Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda. For years now I have shopped at Aldi and would do at Lidl too if there was one nearer. Our supermarkets needs to take a leaf out of their book. I no longer trust any of the deals they do!

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Consumerism promotes the desire to accumulate material wealth. Unfortunately it also promotes considerable waste of valuable resources.

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As consumers it is surely we who exhibit this wasteful activity? Perhaps Which? could help by stopping publishing information about stuff we don’t need, or don’t need to continually update (phones?). Or perhaps most have too much money that they have to dispose of, so waste it? No – surely we have a long job ahead to train people in the finite resources of materials and energy that are available. That will only be likely to happen when we end up in a crisis.

As a trivial illustration a question was asked of Rip Off Britain about the inflated price of fish and chips. Used to be 1/3d (I remember those days) and is now around £6.50 plus. Why so much more than inflation would account for? The answer was they cost no more than they used to – because the fish portion used to be 2oz, and is now 6-8oz, and chips are about twice the portion size. The crisis – WW2 rationing set the original size. Well, I remember being quite happy with the WW2 portion. So why would that not suffice now? Greedy consumers? (mrs r and I often share a large haddock and chips 🙂 )

A major cause of waste is multi-buy offers on fresh food.

This is a generational problem really. Those of us who spent our schooldays constantly needing to do mental arithmetic in our heads, in every class in every subject, haven’t the slightest problem in decoding Asda’s confusing “special offers” – indeed I personally (I’m 83) enjoy seeking them out, because there’s always one version out of the four or five “specials” (sometimes it’s the original, normal, single-item price …) which really IS the cheapest, and makes me feel I’ve got the better of the system.
Still, out of fairness, I applaud Which?’s worthy efforts in this respect – and Asda might maybe, out of simple fairness, put up their individual pricing notices (which they do exhibit, on the edges of shelving) in considerably larger print.
It is certainly wrong to encourage people to buy larger food quantities than they need, which end up getting thrown away.

l am a o.a. p. and live on my pension which goes up and down there fore l have to check on the prices and they very from shop to shop

Only last week Asda in Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne were selling packs of Heinz 5 Beans, 3 in a pack for £2 50 alongside single tins for 50p each!!! Admittedly the single tins were on offer, down from 95p, but how many people would have been caught out?

It’s not just pricing,products are getting smaller for the same price and in some cases packaging is enlarged.

It’s an interesting thought that, whenever the trading results of the major supermarkets are being discussed, the company bosses and the business analysts always refer to the competition posed by the ‘discounters’ – Aldi and Lidl. They never refer to ‘pound shops’ as having any influence on market share so one can only conclude that their overall prices [on a like-for-like basis] are not competitive and that they do not have much commercial impact.

Cora Price says:
1 May 2016

I know this is going off the above complaints a bit but ladies pads and other monthly needs have always been classified as a luxury item so therefore have to pay vat I am a lady of a certain age and have been buying tenna longline and tenna mini for 1.99 now all of a sudden they are£2.40/50 in asda I don’t know of any connection but can somebody explain why and als can Which get the Vat taken of a very necessary item that has Never been a luxury to any women

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