As food price increases start to slow down, it’s not just the supermarkets that are busy battling the pricing war. New research from uSwitch.com reveals that 31 million (73%) shoppers are taking matters into their own hands by opting for supermarket own brand labels in a bid to save money on the weekly shop. This figure has tripled since August 2008 when just a quarter (25%) of shoppers were ditching premium labels to lighten the financial load of the weekly trolley dash.
Much of this increase can be attributed to supermarkets expanding their own brand products in a bid to stop consumers switching to cheaper chains. This includes the launch of the Waitrose ‘Essentials’ own label range, Tesco’s ‘Discounter’ range and Sainsbury’s ‘switch and save campaign’ which calculates own brand savings. Not only has this activity secured repeat visits from existing customers, according to the recent TNS Worldpanel report it has also slowed the rapid growth of overseas competitors such as Aldi, Iceland and Lidl over the past few months.
Overall, this research has revealed that nine out of ten (90%) UK adults now use recession-busting shopping strategies when they do the weekly shop. Money off vouchers have also reached the top of the shopping list with the number of frugal consumers’ regularly using these has also shot up to 74%, compared with 26% last year. In addition, a fifth of shoppers (20%) now compare prices online before taking a trip down the aisles, this has more than tripled from just 6% in August 2008.
When it comes to shopping online 6.4 million consumers now claim to avoid the hustle bustle of their local supermarket by carrying out their weekly food shop online. Again, this has tripled from just 5% of consumers in August 2008. In fact, this is becoming so popular with consumers, industry commentators predict that the value of online food sales could hit £8 billion by 2011.
These recessionary cut backs could also have positive lifestyle implications for many savvy shoppers as they revert to the good life. Almost a fifth of consumers have now taken to growing their own fruit and vegetables, up from just 8% in August 2008. This has created a waiting list for allotments across the country amongst those who do not have the option at home. Just this week, Tesco has applied for planning permission to create allotments for rent at its Dobbies Garden Centre – they also plan to sell allotment starter kits.
As a result of ‘pinching the pennies’ becoming very much the new ‘splashing the cash’, figures suggest supermarkets may turn out to be one of the few winners in the recession. For example, Morrisons has just surprised the market with an unscheduled trading update indicating full year profits would be £70 million ahead of expectations. Share prices in Sainsbury’s and Tesco have also experienced a rise.
Rumina Hassam, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, says: “In the face of uncertain economic forecasts, continued volatility in the housing market, and worrying increases in national unemployment, Brits are making savvy cutbacks to their fundamental spending routine to beat the recession at its own game.
“The number of Brits making basic changes to their weekly food shopping patterns has increased dramatically since last year, as the effects of the recession continue to amplify. However, despite the economic outlook remaining uncertain, consumers may find they have the last laugh – as the lessons learnt from the schooling in savviness they are currently experiencing as a result of the recession will remain vital, even long after the economy recovers.”
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and car insurance.