Online supermarket Ocado has waded further into the supermarket price war by unveiling its Low Price Promise.
This pledges "to beat the price of all comparable Tesco shopping baskets", and not just on branded goods but on comparable products such as some meat and fish as well. If the shopping would have been cheaper at Tesco, Ocado will give you a voucher for the difference plus 1p.
However, a quick scan through the Ocado website doesn't bring up many fresh meat, fish and vegetable products, or even ready meals, that are being compared to Tesco prices. So if you eat a lot of fresh food, chances are your overall shop won't be cheaper. However, you might think that the Ocado products are worth paying that little bit extra for.
On the flipside, if you eat a lot of frozen food and buy big brand store cupboard and household items, you'll probably find your shop is cheaper than it would have been at Tesco. The voucher is capped at £10 and has to be spent within 14 days, with Ocado's standard minimum spend of £40.
All of the major supermarkets, with the exception of Morrisons, are offering schemes to match or better their rivals. Here's what the others are doing.
Asda Price Guarantee
Asda offers a Price Guarantee, which compares the cost of your shopping at the supermarket to what it would cost at rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons.
With this scheme, if your basket is not 10% cheaper at Asda than the other stores, you’ll be given the difference, in the form of either an in-store or e-voucher, depending on whether you did the shopping in a store or online. You need to have bought at least eight items to qualify.
You can’t claim more than £100 or make more than 10 individual claims in a single calendar month with the Price Guarantee. The maximum voucher value that will be issued is £15.
Sainsbury’s Brand Match
With Sainsbury's Brand Match, so long as you spend more than £20, with at least one branded product in your basket (Heinz, for example), then Sainsbury’s will compare the cost of your basket with Tesco and Asda.
If the branded goods in your basket would have been cheaper in either of those two stores, you’ll get a coupon there and then at the till, which can be spent in-store next time you shop. As with Tesco’s Price Promise, the coupon you receive is capped at £10 and you need to spend at least £10 within two weeks to be able to redeem it.
What I like about this service is that it’s instant. It doesn’t rely on you going online and filling in the details of your receipt. The fact that both the Tesco and Asda service rely on you going online means that some shoppers – I’m thinking mainly of the elderly – are excluded from making the most of these price guarantees. No such worries with Sainsbury’s.
Check out the Sainsbury's Nectar Credit Card.
Tesco Price Promise
Tesco revamped its price checking service this summer, making life a little bit harder for shoppers determined to get their weekly shopping for as little as possible.
Last year, Tesco unveiled the Tesco Price Check. The service – which has now been renamed Price Promise – allows you to register the details of your most recent shop at the supermarket, which then checks the prices you paid against the prices you would have paid at Asda. If your shopping would have been cheaper at Asda, you’ll get a Tesco voucher worth the difference.
However, Tesco has introduced a cap of £10 for the money-off vouchers, limiting the appeal for those who do large shops at the store. The supermarket giant has also moved in line with its competitors by setting a minimum limit of at least eight different items in any Tesco basket you wish to check.
Check out the Tesco Clubcard Credit Card.
Waitrose Brand Price Match
Upmarket supermarket Waitrose has a price guarantee of its own. With its Brand Price Match it pledges that all branded groceries cost exactly the same at Waitrose as they do at Tesco.
So while it’s not promising to be the absolute cheapest, it is guaranteeing that it will never (excluding promotions) be more expensive than Tesco on branded goods.
Paying for your loyalty
With the exception of the Waitrose scheme, the others all involve the supermarket actively paying for your loyalty.
This is because you can only spend that voucher at the original supermarket, so even if you’ve established that switching supermarket would save you money, you’re being bribed against doing so by the promise of the money-off voucher.
Doing it yourself
If you’re determined to spend the least amount possible on your grocery basket, there are a couple of things you should do.
Be sure to use MySupermarket.com. The site’s technology is used to power Asda’s Price Guarantee, and allows you to compare the cost of your groceries across all of the main supermarkets.
It doesn’t cover deep discounters though, like Aldi or Lidl. See if you have one of these outlets near you and familiarise yourself with what they stock. You may end up saving even more by shopping there rather than at one of the big names.
Secondly, try to shop in the evening. You can often nab a cracking bargain at the end of the day as the store tries to shift its meat, dairy and baked goods that are near their sell-by dates.