The big four supermarkets have all been cutting prices in advance of the crucial Christmas trading period. However, year-on-year their price cuts looks much less generous – reflecting the ongoing pressure being placed upon them by commodity cost hikes and inflation.
Average prices consumers paid at the tills in November once promotions were factored in dropped by 0.9% month-on-month across the top four supermarkets, according to the latest Grocer Price Index. However, year-on-year, they were 4% higher – whereas in October, they were only 3% higher.
Even the retailer that made the sharpest cuts ahead of Christmas was significantly more expensive than this time last year. Morrisons’ prices were down 1.7% month-on-month, but they were 5% higher than a year ago – in October, they were 4% dearer year-on-year.
Indeed, Morrisons shares the title with Waitrose as the supermarket that has increased prices most The Christmas trading season has brought the usual price cuts in the supermarkets, but the discounts are not as big as last year. Guy Montague-Jones reports year-on-year.
Deals were the driving force behind the 0.9% drop in month-onmonth prices across the supermarkets as average base prices actually edged upwards 0.1% .
Morrisons’ prices may have been the lowest with deals factored in, but strip those out and its prices were actually 0.5% higher monthon- month.
Tesco’s base prices increased the most month-on-month in spite of its continued marketing of the Big Price Drop, which slashed the prices of 3,000 popular items before promotions in September.
Once again, Asda was the star performer when it came to base prices. The supermarket’s monthon- month prices after deals fell by 1%, helping bring its annual price inflation down to 2%. Asda cut its prices ahead of a new value offer on 25 November, which entitles customers who use the chain’s online Price Guarantee check to a £5 voucher for every shop they do of £40 or more until 15 January.
Sainsbury’s pricing performance was also commendable. Along with Asda, it was the only supermarket to offer lower month-on-month prices both with promotions factored in and at a base-price level. Sainsbury’s price cuts were deep enough to reduce its annual price inflation from 4% in October to 3% last month.
Looking across categories, alcohol saw the sharpest price cuts, falling 5.5% month-on-month as retailers ran promotions to encourage consumers to fill up their spirits cupboards in time for the festive season.
The retailers’ price cuts even extended to deli products, which have been the subject of price hikes since the beginning of the year. Frequent visitors to deli counters were among the hardest hit by food price inflation this year – even after the slight drop in prices last month, prices remain 8% higher than last year.
And Asda shoppers should be especially wary – the supermarket’s good overall credentials on price do not stretch to the deli counter, where products are 26% more expensive year-on-year.