As a run up to what is expected to be a particularly chilly winter, it seems appropriate for the last review of the year to be of hot beverages. Looking across the range of tea, coffee and chocolate and asking how we are going to cope when the weather really closes in, the answer seems to be: surprisingly well. That is unless you are buying on promotion.
The checking was all carried out at critical sales times, Friday afternoon between 2pm and 5pm, when it can be hard for stores to replenish. This is a large category with an average of 204 SKUs. Even Somerfield had 113 in the store that we checked. Morrisons came in with a compressed range compared with its competitors. Interestingly, Somerfield also had the highest percentage of goods on promotion, at 25%, followed by Sainsbury at 15% and Tesco at 13%. The category average was 13%.
Turning first to the normal product, it is good to see that everyone from pensioners to babes in arms should be able to find something they would like to warm the cockles. All of the key stores posted creditable availability, most coming in well under the average out of stocks we have seen to date. Plaudits here to Asda, and, for the last time, to the remnants of Safeway, now under Morrisons’ control. It just goes to show what a change of management can achieve.
Many of the stores also coped well with promotion pressure. Safeway, Morrisons and Sainsbury all came in below their established averages in this area.
However, there were three store groups with out of stocks for promotional hot beverage stock: Asda at 29%, Somerfield at 34% and Tesco at 66%.
It is a surprise to see Tesco coming in with these figures on promotion. However, the results are drawn from widely spaced stores and, of course, do not bear in mind the strength of the activity underlying the results.
If you want normal choice and availability when the weather gets colder, it’s anywhere but Somerfield. But if you want a good deal you’ll need to get up early for Tesco.