As Christmas approaches, the major supermarkets are turning up the heat on independents with their usual round of blisteringly cheap product promotions.
In fact, retailers are known to bypass wholesalers and buy alcohol from supermarkets to resell because the multiples’ deals are so aggressive.
But it is not just the promotions that the multiples offer on alcoholic drinks that threatens to eat into cash and carries’ trade with the independent sector.
A recent offer on boxes of 30 Walkers crisps at Asda left many cash and carries jittery (‘We can’t compete with these deals’, The Grocer, November 5, p5).
The Grocer went to Elbrook Cash and Carry in Mitcham to discover just how justified their fears were.
Vimal Kathirgamanathan, manager of Mortlake News in Mortlake, Richmond upon-Thames, recognises that you could find cheaper deals in the major supermarkets than you could in many cash and carries. “Some products are cheaper, such as alcohol or some biscuit brands, especially when you look at the multipack bogof offers.”
However, he says that he does not believe this to be the case in every category. And he would never buy any stock from supermarkets.
He says that increasing numbers of suppliers are recognising the value of price-marking packs for wholesalers. He maintains that price-marked packs sell quicker because customers know they are getting a fair deal and that is helping to keep retailers loyal to cash and carries.
Asif Beg, who owns and manages an off-licence in Streatham High Street, London, is adamant that he too would never visit a supermarket to buy stock. “I have considered it in the past, but I would never visit a supermarket now, not even to buy alcohol. I know a lot of people who do, especially because they run the kind of bogof offers you do not get in cash and carries. But supermarkets do not like other retailers coming in and buying stock from them anyway.”
However, Vijay Ganesh, manager of a groceries, food and wine store in Balham, says that on balance he would make an occasional exception to top up existing stocks: “I would visit a Tesco Express to buy booze. But if you compare many of its prices to ours, you would find that we are cheaper than a Tesco Express on a lot of items, because we get many products delivered directly from the supplier.”
He says that he visits Elbrook mainly for beers, wines and cigarettes. “We get most of the rest of our groceries from Bestway,” he adds. “We can get them cheaper than we can from the supermarkets.”