They say there are two things in life which are inevitable - death and taxes. To which, at this time of year, you can usually add the common cold. So the question is: where to go to find relief?
There are a surprising range of cold medications on offer. Somerfield and Tesco have around 70 SKUs while the other multiples have between 40 and 50.
On top of this variety, Somerfield and Tesco have a considerable proportion of their larger ranges on special offer - 30% at Somerfield and 26% at Tesco. Given the season, and the broad range of offers, it may not be surprising that, on average, nearly 90% of the special offers are rapidly going out of stock. This will affect their averages, which so far this year have been around 19% on promotions for Somerfield and 15% for Tesco.
On non-promotional lines, availability is looking more normal. The best are the old Safeway stores, with 0% out of stock or at risk. Together with Asda (9%) and Sainsbury (5%), they are beating their long-term average. Somerfield’s 22% and Tesco’s 42%, however, reflect the fact that all of their facings are under pressure, while Morrisons has 28% availability.
Why is there such a wide disparity of performances between the various store groups? One explanation might be that people are buying products in advance. They know that they will get a cold - so the special offer is an opportunity to beat the odds at the right price and stock up the medicine chest. If so, then Somerfield and Tesco may have got it right.
But, if they sell much of their product at offer prices, they may have missed the chance to keep goods in stock for customers who get a cold now, and need the availability. And looking ahead, they might find sales harder to come by as those who have stockpiled use up their products before they come back to market.
We running out of old-style Safeway stores to monitor, so next month will be the last time they are included.