For the first time in the 27-year history of the Grocer 33 price comparison survey, we’re changing the methodology we use to determine the cheapest retailer every week. As of this week, instead of shelf-edge prices, we will be allowing (shelf-edge) loyalty price promotions to be included in the reckoning.

Over the years (indeed to this day) schemes have been introduced that seek to price match rivals. Some take the difference off the next purchase. Others offer cash back, but the list of matches is limited or skewed in favour of the retailer as the shopper is unaware of the deals a rival might be offering. So we’ve ignored them in determining who is the cheapest retailer. But loyalty pricing is different. So long as you are members of these free loyalty schemes the savings are instantaneous. Nor do you need a mobile phone or a computer – or even the internet – to access them.


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We know there are some lobby groups who consider themselves to be champions of the consumer. And in their secretive price inflation indexes, they refuse to consider loyalty prices, which they deem to be “dodgy”.

But our transparent (and constantly changing) Grocer 33 weekly price comparisons show time and again that loyalty pricing is having a meaningful impact on inflation. And our decision to include them is informed by consumers, who are voting with their feet (and fingers), using their loyalty cards and loyalty apps to enjoy lower prices and dial out of inflation.

Indeed, The Grocer’s exclusive consumer research shows the majority of shoppers value loyalty prices over any other membership benefit. By more than 2:1.

Shoppers know a good deal when they see one. And for most, handing over their ‘data’ by signing up for free membership of easily accessible loyalty programmes in return for discounts is not only a small price to pay, it’s no price at all.

The recalibration will likely mean there will be a new winner of the annual Grocer 33 price competition for the first time ever. But that reflects the reality of the price war we’re seeing, with loyalty prices proving a decisive new weapon.

WATCH MORE: How grocery can use data to win shoppers’ loyalty.