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Waitrose and Co-op to cut prices of essential items by 15% ahead of Christmas season

Kalila Sangster
·2-min read
A Waitrose sign is pictured on 18 September 2020 in Bracknell, United Kingdom. Waitroses headquarters and a distribution centre are located in Bracknell, as well as a store in The Lexicon shopping centre. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Waitrose is reducing prices of more than 200 of its basic own-label products. Photo: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images

UK supermarkets are cutting prices on hundreds of essential items this week as they compete for customers ahead of the Christmas season amid the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Waitrose is reducing prices of more than 200 of its basic own-label products, including beef mince, tea and washing-up-liquid, by an average of more than 15%.

The Co-op is dropping the prices of over 300 branded and own-label store-cupboard staples, including rice, pasta and coffee, by nearly 15% on average.

The Co-op is also bringing in a new low-price range for shoppers on a budget. The new “Honest Value” range will include 50 items, including British meat, soft drinks, fruit and vegetables.

Waitrose and the Co-op, the UK’s sixth and eighth largest supermarkets respectively, are lowering their prices after their bigger rivals started cutting prices in a battle to attract more budget-conscious shoppers whose finances have been hit by the economic impact of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Top tips: Seven ways to save money while getting ready for Christmas

Tesco (TSCO.L) launched an “Aldi Price Match” guarantee in March and said in October that it had begun to win customers from the German discounter for the first time in a decade, citing data from market research firm Kantar.

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) said it was cutting the prices of 1,000 products, Asda (WMT) said it would put £100m ($130m) into lowering prices and Morrisons (MRW.L) said it was cutting prices on 400 items in September by an average of 23%, according to the Guardian.

Grocery prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels, after a 2.5% rise at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, with gradual deflation through the summer as price promotions returned to normal levels, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council.

With fears over a second wave of the virus and lockdowns increasing, supermarkets are also trying to win over shoppers who may be worried about the risks of shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores as the demand for online shopping soars.

READ MORE: Asda revealed as cheapest UK supermarket in September

More than half (52%) of UK consumers are worried about how they will afford Christmas this year, according to consumer insight company Toluna’s Understanding the 2020 Consumer Global Barometer study.

The study also showed a more pronounced shift to online shopping, as four in 10 planned to do Christmas shopping online.

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