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Cash-strapped Britons target 'reduced to clear' food, says Tesco

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers go into a Tesco store in Bow, east London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's worsening cost-of-living crunch has led to a sharp rise in the number of shoppers looking for "reduced to clear" food, Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket group, said on Wednesday.

Britons are struggling with rising living costs that show no sign of easing. With inflation at a 41-year high of 11.1% and consumer confidence close to the gloomiest on record, they are seeking to make savings.

Tesco said a YouGov survey it commissioned showed that 69% of shoppers now look out for products which have been marked down because they are close to their expiry date or are end of season or discontinued lines.

It said 33% of customers are seeking these reductions more frequently.

Meat products were proving most popular in the reduced to clear section followed by ready meals, vegetables and then desserts.

Tesco is revamping the reduced section in its stores to "Reduced in price - just as nice," to tempt the 29% of people the YouGov survey found would shop reduced items more often if the section was made more visually appealing.

Tesco said the trend was also helping it to cut food waste.

Industry data shows that Britons are also making savings by buying more own-label goods and frozen foods, which tend to be cheaper than branded or fresh options.

They are also making more shopping trips, but with smaller basket sizes, and are shopping less online to avoid delivery fees.

Last month, Tesco forecast full-year profit at the lower end of its previous guidance, blaming uncertainty over how consumer spending will evolve.

Last week market researcher Kantar reported food inflation hit a record 14.7% in October and said it was still too early to call the ceiling.

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Louise Heavens)