Blog: Shoppers urged to take price match schemes with "pinch of salt"

Michelle Russell | 23 October 2013

UK consumer watchdog Which? has insisted shoppers should be wary of supermarket price match schemes due to a skewing of each retailer's comparisons.

In a report today (23 October) Which? claimed supermarket price match schemes "differ greatly", meaning it can be hard to tell which supermarket is the cheapest, it said. Which? analysed the till receipts of 19 Asda shops, 20 Tesco stores and 20 Sainsbury's outlets, checking the price of each basket with the supermarket's own online price match.

In the majority of cases, the supermarket visited claimed to be cheaper than its rivals. However, the consumer group said each supermarket calculates its price match schemes in different ways "We believe these claims should be taken with a pinch of salt," Which? said.

The results of the analysis found Asda was the cheapest on the most occasions (17 out of 19) according to its 'Price Guarantee'. Sainsbury's was cheaper than Asda and Tesco for ten of the visits, and joint cheapest for another two, according to its 'Brand Match'. Tesco was cheaper than Asda and Sainsbury's for ten of the 20 visits according to its 'Price Promise'.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: "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."

As discounters continue to gain serious ground in the UK, the price-match schemes of the main retailers are an important weapon to retain customers. 

This latest Which? report was published, ironically, on the same day that Sainsbury's had an advert plugging its Brand Match price comparison scheme banned by the UK's advertising watchdog for "misleading consumers".

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the advert implied consumers did not need to shop around to benefit from the full savings from deals, which, the watchdog said, "was not the case".

Sectors: Retail

Companies: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda

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