Sainsbury's shopper in store

Sainsbury’s has ramped up investment in its Price Lock and Aldi Price Match campaigns this year

Sainsbury’s has slashed the number of items in its Price Lock commitment by over a fifth since the start of the year amid ramping supply chain cost pressures.

The supermarket currently has 1,640 items quoted in its online Price Lock page [as of Monday, 15 August], down more than 20% from 2,100 in early January [Edge by Ascential, 5 Jan 2022].

Sainsbury’s’ Price Lock campaign is one of its main value propositions, featuring “low prices on branded essentials such as dishwasher tablets, cereals, and tinned tomatoes”, the supermarket said.

Price Lock  ‘cycles’ typically last eight weeks, which means the prices of products marked with a padlock won’t go up for at least about two months from each cycle.

Although the number of padlocked items online may vary slightly each week – particularly nearing the end of cycles when items are dynamically being added or removed from the list – Price Lock has been consistently shrinking throughout the year.

Earlier this year, the retailer said it in its full-year earnings report it was focused on offering its customers “the best possible value, including through Price Lock, which keeps the prices of around 2,000 essentials locked for at least eight weeks”.

However, the popular value campaign has largely featured under 2,000 items this year amid mounting supply chain inflationary pressures.

“It’s not a surprise that the number of Sainsbury’s Price Lock items has fallen since the start of the year with the immense pressure on cost price increases that all manufacturers and retailers are battling with,” said Paul Stainton, partner at retail consulting firm IPLC.

Many items have continued to feature in Sainsbury’s Price Lock at the same price as earlier this year, IPLC analysis showed, such as Cadbury’s Chocolate Eclairs, Lucozade Energy, Kellogg’s Wheats and own-label nappies.

But many former Price Lock items have also “significantly increased” in price, such as Cheetos Puffs (up from £1 to £1.25), Princes Tuna Chunks four-pack (up from £3.25 to £3.75) and Oxo Stock Pots (up from £1.10 to £1.35).

Sainsbury’s has invested over £500m over the two years to March 2023 in its value proposition, which includes Price Lock as well as Aldi Price Match, to keep a lid on inflation.

In recent months, it has also increased the number of entry price level lines and improved value messaging in-store through new value aisles and promotional signage.

In July, the supermarket emerged as the cheapest basket in the Grocer 33 mystery shop for the first time since early May.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “With costs going up, we are working hard to keep prices low.

“The bold steps we are taking to focus on value means all our customers will find great deals when they shop with us and do not need to go anywhere else to get the best prices on their weekly shop.

“We are confident our Sainsbury’s Quality, Aldi Price Match campaign and Price Lock promise are making a big difference to our customers.”