Supermarket price matching doesn't add up

Which! says customers should take supermarket price matching schemes with ‘a pinch of salt’ (Table salt: 39p from Asda). After analysing Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda - who all offer voucher style price matching - they say that the schemes themselves are so different that it’s almost impossible to tell whether one is cheaper than the other.


The rival comparison schemes, where you get a voucher with money off after you pay for your shopping, don’t really stand up to close scrutiny. Each supermarket claims to be cheaper than the other, but when the receipts are analysed, things don’t add up. Which! found that Asda was the cheapest overall, but supermarkets are able to set their own rules for what products feature in their price comparison schemes. And also some products in the schemes are different sizes to others offered in rival supermarkets, so it’s hard to tell which one is actually the cheapest.

The investigation comes after a recent row involving a Sainsbury’s Brand Match ad, which suggested that customers shouldn’t bother shopping around for deals at Tesco and Asda because Sainsbury’s would give you the difference. But, taking deals and special offers into account, it turned out that you would actually save more by shopping in all three supermarkets, and the ASA banned the ad for being ‘misleading.’

But the bottom line is, price matching isn’t really going to save you much, anyway. Even if you turn up to all three supermarkets with a calculator and a secret shopper, like Which! did, you’d only come away with a paltry saving of £1.45.

Sum it up, Richard Lloyd!

‘Supermarket price-matching schemes can save you money but we believe they should be taken with a pinch of salt because they are difficult to compare. At a time when consumers are facing a squeeze on their household incomes, we want all the supermarkets to do whatever they can to help consumers find the best deal.’


  • Alexis
    It's a load of nonsense because as soon as you buy a BOGOF or any one item that's on offer, your shop will be cheaper. The supermarkets know that people buy dependent on offer, not from a set list week in week out.
  • JonB
    "we want all the supermarkets to do whatever they can to help consumers find the best deal" You can want that all you like but that's not in the supermarket's interest, nor would it make shareholders happy. Supermarkets want to make it difficult to compare prices so that they can make more money out of shoppers. Simple as that.
  • Inspector G.
    Yes, it's more than which one has the cheapest products. Our local Tesco is the biggest supermarket in terms of floor size and so has more of a product range and relies more on special deals. This means that the missus ends up putting more in the trolley. Now if I could get hold of some 'tesco blinkers' I'd be laughing.
  • Milky P.
    As Alexis says, they know you'll pick up a BOGOF offer or 2 so any difference in cancelled out. I've considered putting all my non-offer products through the checkout first and then putting through BOGOF's/offers through as a separate transaction so they don't cancel it out. I'm not sure if its worth the ballache though, I've never tried it...
  • Richard L.
    Remember, bargain fans - ¡Which! is cheaper in Tesco. No, Asda. Wait, I mean Morrisons. ...Actually you can only buy it from us, and only on subscription, so any competition can stuff right off.
  • Jerry
    the supermarkets make it as complicated as possible to compare prices, both within the store and also against competetors. And, who has the time to do the weekly shopping in 3 supermarkets and buy the cheapest in each of them?? Best to go to Lidl or Aldi right away, you will probably half your spending and the quality is great too. (i sound like an advert, haha!)
  • Reader
    "But the bottom line is, price matching isn’t really going to save you much, anyway. Even if you turn up to all three supermarkets with a calculator and a secret shopper, like Which! did, you’d only come away with a paltry saving of £1.45." Absolute BS
  • O V.
    @Inspector Gadget: Not sure what you mean by Tesco blinkers. You mean you'd make the missus wear them in bed, so she'd put you in her trolley (obviously I mean fanny)?
  • shiftynifty
    There all at need to be a supermarket anorak geek to keep on they say....So here`s one example to share...a fruit not available to pick up in pick your own (all gone)...but round the corner 5 exact same items in a bag for a open bag...put 5 loose items in basket , get to check out...those 5 weighed...charged blatantly charging 51p for a bit of shrinkwrap/plastic bag...So yeah...they deserve every mauling they get...and then some
  • fibbingarchie
    I'm in awe of this logic.^^^
  • Shiftyniftysshadow
    Which is why I avoid the supermarkets and use the mini mart....
  • Reader
    @shiftynifty That's not legal. They also charge 90p/kilo for loose carrots, and £1 for pre-bagged. So customers are paying for the convenience. Of what? Of having 1 kilo of carropts pre-packed for them? If customers are that stupid then screw them. They can subsidise my loose carrots and I can choose which ones I want in my basket. Also, I am not limited to a set weight.
  • O V.
    Haha - your loose carrots? I guess you mean testicles?
  • thefunboi
    @shiftynifty - I agree, a great example of this today. Asda, 3 'lumps' of fresh ginger, in a bag - big £1 sticker on it as if it was a bargain. Only needed one so picked up a free weigh one. Got to till 6p. 6 f-ing p. Robbing bar stewards.
  • Bogbrush
    my word, people paying for packaging and convenience, whatever next!
  • tahrey
    Reports from the HUKD and MSE massive are that Asda's scheme is pretty much purposely set up that you can't end up benefiting more than a couple of quid off a well-engineered weekly shop ... and if you try to redeem a APMG voucher for more than £4 (usually only achieveable by abusing pricing glitches) a manager is called over and they basically launch a full scale internal investigation to find out just HTFH you ended up grasping such an artefact in your sweaty paw...
  • No C.
    Self scanned a £3 price marked item at Asda and it went through at £6. Called over assistant and was told "Well the item is probably part of a deal and only that price when you purchase the rest of the items." My reply was "Well if that was the case it would state that, wouldn't it!" He still insisted on taking the product to check the price and whether it was part of an offer "It isn't, well fancy that....I bet you're a dab hand at Cluedo."
  • FleetFanatic
    5 red delicious apples in Tesco - average £3.25 to £3.50 this year. Thankfully, I resorted to using one of the grocer's in Newcastle's Grainger Market several months ago. 5 red delicious apples now cost between £1.30 & £1.50. No doubt fresher too as the grocer can't hold as much stock as a Tesco warehouse. So all our fruit & veg is bought there. Money saved on that means we opted to start using a butcher there too. Slightly dearer... but take the chicken breast, for example. It doesn't shrink like the water-pumped Tesco stuff does. I'd say there's vast profiteering going on rather than paying for convenience. Support your local traders more.

What do you think?

Your comment