A fairly static average basket price across the big four down just marginally on October hides some big movements in individual categories and among retailers over the past month.
Sainsbury's emerged as the key proponents of price-cutting in many categories, with the biggest drops in chilled and frozen food as well as in health & beauty. The retailer was also the only one of the big four to post month-on-month falls in the price of poultry, meat and fish.
According to the Grocer Price Index, chilled food in the big four was on average 5.7% cheaper in November than in October. The biggest month-on-month drop came from Sainsbury's (14.6%), followed by Morrisons (6.7%) and Asda (3.5%). In both Tesco and Waitrose, chilled food was respectively 3.6% and 2.3% more expensive than in October.
Sainsbury's also led the way in price falls in frozen food and health & beauty, cutting prices by a respective 6.7% and 3.7%. Prices also fell at Tesco (by 1.3% and 2.7%) and Morrisons (by 1.7% and 3.7%). Asda, however, saw average prices increase in both categories, with health & beauty up 2.3% and frozen up 2.5%.
With a drop of 1%, alcohol reported the biggest month-on-month fall since the World Cup as retailers ramped up festive deals. The biggest decrease came from Morrisons, where prices were down 3%, followed by Sainsbury's (down 1.5%) and Asda (down 0.7%). Waitrose, which is not included in the GPI average basket price, reduced alcohol prices by 2%.
Significant rises were reported for biscuits, confectionery and snacks, infant & baby, and soft drinks. Prices in the baby category shot up nearly 3% month-on-month, largely driven by Asda (up 6%) and Sainsbury's (up 4%).
Meat, fish and poultry saw its biggest month-on-month rise since March as prices across the big mults rose by, on average, 1.1%, driven partly by rising animal feed prices. Here, Asda was responsible for the biggest movement, with average prices across the category up 5.7%, while Sainsbury's was the only one of the big four to see prices come down, by nearly 4%.