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The UK supermarket sector is bracing itself for the outbreak of a multi-million pound price war as two of its largest operatives announced a swathe of price cuts.

Asda fired the first salvo on Friday (15 June) by announcing GBP250m (US$495.1m) in cuts across 10,000 prices in its food, George and general merchandise sectors. At the same time Tesco said it would make price cuts worth GBP270m on 3,000 products from this week. The UK’s largest supermarket said it was its biggest-ever price-cut campaign.

The move by the two retail giants comes at a time when the financial pressure on UK consumers is increasing. Research released by Asda claims that the average UK family has only GBP146 per month of disposable income after they’ve paid all the bills.

Asda said that the average shopper’s basket at its stores is now 17% lower in real terms than in 1997 as a result of ten years of price cuts.

“We have a ten-year history of fighting to keep prices low for consumers. We are declaring a supermarket price war today. Our research shows how little the average family has left once they’ve covered their living expense which makes me even more committed to delivering Britain’s lowest basket of groceries,” said Asda’s CEO Andy Bond. 

“Rip-off Britain, where other retailers con their customers, is alive and well and we’re determined to put a stop to it once and for all. Over the next year we’re going to expose businesses that prey on customers, forcing them to pay through the nose for goods and services while they pocket massive margins,” added Bond.