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Every little helps: Which? reveals how to save on your shopping basket

New research from Which? Money reveals the small changes you can make to your shopping habits that could help you save over a third on your grocery basket.

Which? Money compared the price of an identical basket of shopping between six leading grocers, finding the most expensive retailer charged almost £9 more than the cheapest alternative – a difference of 36%.

The most expensive basket came from Waitrose, with the 10 products coming to a total of £32.85. The cheapest alternative basket came from Asda, costing just £24.12 – a saving of £8.73.

Asda’s basket also came in £6.32 cheaper than the next cheapest basket, costing £30.44 from Tesco.

The biggest price difference in an individual product was for Hellman’s mayonnaise (750ml) which cost £2 in Asda, but £4.42 in Morrisons – a price difference of 221%.

The cost of a basket of 10 identical branded products – including essentials like milk and toilet paper, as well as other popular groceries such as biscuits, tea bags, and cereal – was compared using price comparison website Mysupermarket.co.uk, who claim to offer savings averaging 30% on each shop.

The research also reveals a number of changes you can make to your shopping habits to help beat food price inflation, which was running at 4% a year at the end of 2017 – well ahead of the general rate of inflation.

Which? Money advise shoppers to follow these five steps to cut the cost of their shopping basket:

  1. Find the cheapest retailer – As our comparisons found, you can make significant savings by shopping online and comparing your basket between supermarkets. Shopping online also allows comparisons of products within supermarkets – many online retailers will suggest cheaper substitutes to products in your basket, saving you even more money.
  2. Be wary of supermarket tactics – If you do shop in store, be aware of the tactics used by supermarkets to persuade you to spend more. These include spreading out essential products across the store to make you walk past every aisle, and running ‘special offers’ which are too good to be true – our research found that many ‘discounted’ goods had their prices increased immediately before they were reduced, giving you a false saving.
  3. Don’t assume branded means better – It’s common knowledge that supermarkets will charge more for branded alternatives to own-brand products, and more for ‘premium’ own-brand goods than basic ones. In many cases though, these products are produced in the same factory, and sometimes, are identical to branded goods. Painkillers, for example, are subject to strict rules governing the active ingredients – our research found 14 different packets of ibuprofen containing identical caplets, but with prices ranging from 8p a pill to 20p.
  4. Hold supermarkets to their price promises – Many supermarkets make a big deal of their price guarantees, and whilst the details of these price promises vary and they usually only cover branded products, the bottom line is that if your basket of shopping would cost less elsewhere, they’ll refund you the difference.
  5. Know the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ – Perishable food comes with a number of labels indicating when a product is at its best, but only one should be taken as a firm deadline as to when food should be consumed by – the ‘use by’ date. Other dates, such as ‘best before’, ‘sell by’, or ‘display until’ are only guidelines as to when a product is likely to be at its best, or instructions to the retailer that you can ignore. Use your senses to decide whether something that is past its ‘best before’ is still good to consume, rather than throwing it away – your next shop will be correspondingly smaller.

Which? Money Editor, Harry Rose, said:

“With food prices rising well beyond the general rate of inflation, we’re all looking for ways we can cut down on the cost of our weekly shop.

“Our money saving tips can help shoppers regain control of their spending habits, without compromising on the quality of products we want to enjoy.”

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