Asda is pumping £150m into what it claims is its biggest-ever set of festive price cuts.

CEO Andy Bond said the retailer had decided on the reductions after research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) indicated this Christmas was set to cost UK consumers £11.8bn, £383m more than last year. The typical British family would fork out £448 on Christmas food, drink, toys and gifts, it said.

"Research shows the family budget is being stretched to the limit," said Bond this week. "That's why we've invested £150m in our biggest set of festive price cuts."

More than 2,500 price

cuts would be made across Asda's entire range, including festive food, George clothing, toys, gifts and electrical goods, he said.

The cost of a Christmas pudding would be cut to 98p and the price of a dozen mince pies would fall to £1. Big brands such as Coke, Hellman's and Walkers Crisps would be included in the price chop.

The CEBR said the rising price of Christmas was

mainly caused by increased inflation on food and drink and static prices for imported consumer goods, which had fallen consistently in previous years.

Other factors included the inter­national banking crisis, a weakening economy and rising unemployment.

n Retail analyst Verdict predicts Primark will overtake Asda's George range next year to become the number one player in the budget clothing market.