All 3 entries tagged Supermarkets

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December 11, 2008

Half–price, my arse…

The Times has fallen for Tesco’s boast of a 50% off sale starting tomorrow.

Offers include…

  • Isla Negra Cabernet Sauvignon Was £7.49 now £3.74
  • Tesco Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon 400g Was £10.98 now £5.49
  • Tesco Creamy Brie 350g Was £2.69 now £1.34
  • David Beckham – Instinct After Dark 30ml – Was £17.50 now £8.75
  • Tesco Finest Crackers Was £20 now £10
  • Boxed Cards – all lines Half Price

Let me translate.

If you bought any of these things today, yesterday or last week, you were mugged.

Isla Negra Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance, should never have been sold at £7.49. In fact, it probably wasn’t in very many stores. But that daft price point allows Tesco to claim that the new £3.74 price represents ‘half’ of something. ASDA were selling it for £3.33 the whole time.

David Beckham Vinegar Perfume – Which mugs bought it for £17.50? Other shops were selling it for £9.79 all along.

Boxed cards and Crackers – Tesco’s probably realised many people have already bought their stash for this year and they’ve got a tonne left over.

Tesco Creamy Brie – go and look at a supermarket comparison website. Like the wine, it was overpriced in the first place.

How long before people get wise to this nonsense?

January 23, 2007

Supermarkets are getting an easy ride from the Competition Commission

Supermarket share prices, 23rd Jan 2007 It’s several years since supermarkets were last checked to see if they were anti-competitive. Since then, the answer’s become even clearer. Corner shops and convenience stores are lucky if they’re reporting declining sales. At least they haven’t shut up shop already.

But despite this, the Competition Commission has given the supermarkets plenty of breathing space while outlining their ‘emerging thinking’ today. And where’s the evidence? Well, it’s on the right. If the stockbrokers think that an across-the-board rise in supermarket share prices is appropriate, it probably means they’re going to get an easy ride.

The inquiry says it’s now going to “go local”. But you have to wonder if they’ll bother to speak to any of the thousands of people put out of business by the 800lb gorillas in the market.

October 03, 2006

Is a monolithic Tesco a bad thing?

Tesco has announced half-year profits of over £1bn today, double what they were getting only five years ago. As usual, the news generated as much fury in the media as when the big banks reveal how much they’re ripping us off by.

But should we be getting uptight about Tesco doing so well? For one thing, almost all of the growth has come from the supermarket’s 949 foreign stores, which are growing three times faster than the UK ones. Having said that, second-quarter sales in the UK alone rose 6.6% (up from 4.5%), partly through the growth of non-food items.

Environmentalists and farmers will probably be up in arms. But are there advantages to having a dominant player in the market? Let me give you an example. Pressure groups can focus on beating one giant easier than tackling a thousand minnows. For instance, if you want better standards for cooped-up chickens, you’d have a much bigger impact trying to convince Tesco of the need for improvement than lobbying the thousands of butchers in the UK. When Tesco changes something for the better, they take between a fifth and a sixth of the grocery market with them.

True, the opposite can also occur. And despite Terry Leahy’s protestations, Tesco has had a major impact on the vibrancy of the British High Street. But we should give Tesco credit where it’s due. It’s commitment to Dolphin Friendly tuna (yes, even Tesco Value tuna is dolphin safe), minimum standards in agriculture, policies on GM and recycling is commendable, and has a big effect.

While we might shout at Tesco for being so dominant, we need to recognise that when they change something for the better, their influence spreads a long way. Not only that, but on many issues concerning the public, Tesco is starting to be a market-leader rather than a follower.

So well done to Tesco on making big profits: it’s not a natural reaction for Britons to praise such a feat. But Sir Terry Leahy mustn’t rest on his laurels. There’s many more battles which Tesco should be leading on.

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