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Price is once again most important to shoppers, and Aldi and Asda are seen to be responding well to the cost of living crisis

Thanks to the biggest squeeze on household budgets in decades, cheap prices are the key factor when it comes to deciding Britain’s favourite supermarket.

That’s not stopped Tesco winning this Grocer Gold award, voted for by over 7,000 respondents in Nielsen IQ’s Homescan household panel, for the ninth year running – but more so than ever discounter, Aldi is snapping at its heels as it continues to expand its estate and improve its shopping experience.

Price is back on top for supermarket shoppers

Price has historically been the most important single attribute in the survey, having been seen as the number one factor from when it began in 2011 every year until 2019.

But in 2020, 2021 and 2022, it was displaced by the desire for a good overall shopping experience, as the coronavirus pandemic temporarily changed British shopping habits, as priorities changed.

This year, when households were asked to choose their most important factors, price was back on top, followed by a good overall shopping experience, with promotions and offers third.

Winner’s below based on each attribute

Overall winner: 

 Attribute  Winner
Price Aldi
Shopping experience  Tesco
Promos & offers  Tesco 
Convenient ways to shop  Tesco
Good technology  Tesco 
Wide product choice  Tesco 
Product availability  Tesco 
Quality food & drink  M&S 
Environmental  M&S 
Ethics & social responsibility  M&S 
Source: NielsenIQ Homescan household panel 24 May 2023  

When asked to choose their favoured retailer, Tesco came first, ranked top by 20% of households, an identical proportion to the previous two years.

Aldi came second, chosen by 19%, a rise of one percentage point since last year, with Sainsbury’s in third, narrowly ahead of Asda.

The survey also asked participants to rank their first, second and third best retailers on a list of 10 top factors shoppers were looking for. For the first time since the survey began, Aldi made the top three for two different categories: price and good overall experience.

Read more: Self-checkouts causing customer service dip

Tesco hung on to its first position in six categories: overall shopping experience, promotions, good use of technology, wide choice and availability.

Aldi, meanwhile, overtook Asda into third place for good overall shopping experience.

The reduced gap between Tesco and Aldi was also shown by another question: when asked to assume no obstacles, such as geographical reasons, 65% said they would definitely shop at Tesco, up one percentage point, compared with 62% at Aldi (from 60% last year) and 55% at Lidl.

Morrisons saw the biggest fall in that test, with 43% saying they would definitely shop there, down four percentage points, a reflection of how the supermarket has struggled to hang on to the coat-tails of its rivals in the financial crisis.

Aldi, on the other hand, as in the previous survey, is seen to be reacting best to the cost of living crisis, with 19% of respondents citing its response as the best, compared with 13% for Tesco.

Asda made gains here too, up to 12% from 8%, suggesting that while it may have slipped in overall shopping experience, the Issa brothers have made an impact with their moves on price and loyalty.

Our survey captures peak inflation and quite clearly Tesco and Aldi have come out on top as the ones who are touching the most needs of their shoppers over the last 12 months

NielsenIQ head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins

Lidl, however, slipped backwards. Nine per cent of shoppers picked it, compared with 12% last year.

Aldi topped the ranking as the most improved retailer for the third year in a row, a category in which Morrisons, Lidl and Co-op have all fallen backwards, worrying for both of them as part of a continuing pattern over the last three years.

With its enormous reach, Tesco was again well clear of the pack as best online retailer, chosen by 15% of shoppers, compared with its next nearest rival Asda on 9%.

But the category was notable for seeing Ocado leapfrog Sainsbury’s into third. It is now pushing second-placed Asda.

M&S overtook Tesco and the Co-op to come first for good environmental practices and good ethics & social responsibility respectively, as well as being top for product quality again.

And its success in winning the Grocer of the Year was also reflected in the number of shoppers who thought it the most improved retailer doubling to 6%, while 2% believed M&S was responding best to the cost of living crisis. Its focus on value is the right call, says Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ.

“Our survey captures peak inflation and quite clearly Tesco and Aldi have come out on top as the ones who are touching the most needs of their shoppers over the last 12 months.

“Whilst Tesco is still top, shoppers clearly see Aldi, in particular, as a genuine alternative to the big supermarket shop.”

Top two retailers by attribute
Attribute 1st place 2nd place
Overall Tesco (1st) Asda (2nd)
1) Price Aldi (1st) Lidl (2nd)
2) Good overall shopping experience Tesco (1st) Sainsbury’s (2nd)
3) Promotions and offers Tesco (1st) Asda (2nd)
4) Providing convenient ways to shop Tesco (1st) Asda (2nd)
5) Good use of technology Tesco (1st) Sainsbury’s (2nd)
6) Wide choice of products Tesco (1st) Asda (2nd)
7) Good product availability Tesco (1st) Sainsbury’s (2nd)
8) Good quality food and drink M&S (1st) Waitrose (2nd)
9) Good environment practices M&S (2nd) Tesco (1st)
10) Good ethics and social responsibility M&S (2nd) Co-op (1st)
Source: NielsenIQ Homescan household panel Notes: Position in brackets is 2022  

Jason Tarry, Tesco UK CEO, says Tesco’s win is “testament to the continued dedication and commitment of our team to deliver on our core value – no one tries harder for customers”.

“It’s really pleasing that our focus on the shopping trip, particularly on delivering great value for customers through the hundreds of staple products on Aldi Price Match, the thousands of weekly deals on Clubcard Prices, or the thousands of products we’ve locked at low everyday prices, has been recognised by customers.”

An Aldi spokeswoman says: “We’re continuing to see high numbers of people switching to Aldi from every other supermarket as they look to save money. Our promise to our customers remains that we will always offer the lowest prices.”