March 24, 2006

Which is the best supermarket?

I have just been chatting to Richard about supermarkets and their relative merits (not surprising when our lab group contains so many food-obsessed people). We tend to disagree as far as which is the best: Richard is a Sainsbury's man, I a Tesco/Asda woman (after having recently discovered the Warwick Tesco due to the permanent presence of Justin plus car and been completely fed up several times recently with the Leamington Sainsbury's). However, I also get more specialist produce from our excellent little shops in Leamington (The Globe is fantastic). But which is really the best? Do people, particularly students, really consider the multinational-corporations-squashing-local-businesses issue or is saving money more important? Does the quality of the shopping experience strongly influence your opinion?

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  1. Convenience for me. Any of the big supermarkets will do, although if there were a choice of two close together I'd pick the cheaper one. At home, Morrisons is our local and on the other side of town we have Sainsbury's and Tesco. When Morrisons used to be Safeway, Safeway was the most expensive of the three but we used to shop there simply because it was more convenient. Now Morrisons have taken over and brought the prices down it's much better, and also in general the quality of products such as fresh meat has become greater at the same time.

    " Do people, particularly students, really consider the multinational-corporations-squashing-local-businesses issue or is saving money more important?"
    I think there is probably a divide here, but for me saving money is more important. Particularly having just seen the costs involved in the course I'm embarking on next year…

    24 Mar 2006, 14:13

  2. I'm a Sainsbury's girl myself-but that's only because it's the most convenient for me. That said, I'm fickle-when I was in Leam I went to Asda all the time and it was fab. But little shops are great. Back home there's the grocer and the butcher my mum goes to and they know her by name. It's also nice because the service you get is much more personal-when I visit the grocers I reel off what I want and he gets it for me :)

    24 Mar 2006, 15:02

  3. Ben, that's interesting, because I'd say the same thing: for now, saving money comes first. However, I intend to do lots of things when I've graduated and started earning proper amounts of money. I want to indulge in more expensive food, eat out more, spend more on presents for my loved-ones, give money to charity etc. But I don't know whether I will actually do them as much later as I hope I will be able to now: the financial constrains change, but they're still there.

    24 Mar 2006, 15:23

  4. I've consistently gone to Tescos when I'm at uni. Even now I drive from Campus to the Warwick Tesco because after shopping there for three years I know it back to front and the product range is better than Cannon Park. At home I'm also a Tesco person. Some of Sainsbury's food is nicer, but their minced beef is dreadful. Nicest by far is Waitrose though, which I do when near my grandparents because although there is a Tesco next door more or less the Waitrose has nicer food by far. Death to own brand products in my opinion… I think I might be a snob.

    24 Mar 2006, 16:05

  5. Waitrose, any day of the week.

    24 Mar 2006, 16:37

  6. Personally I much prefer shopping in Sainsbury's and I think their stuff is of better quality than any of the other main supermarkets, so I shop at the Canley Sainsbury's.

    24 Mar 2006, 17:06

  7. I'm a sainsbugs girl. That said, I like some of the bits you get at Asda, sometimes feels like a bit more choice. Tescos has been proven to have the best chocolate puddings. And if Marks and Sparks was closer I'd definately go there for the odd dip or pud.
    Love Sainsbugs tho and it's convenient as well.

    24 Mar 2006, 17:28

  8. John

    I can't afford it, but Waitrose is beyond indictment on any charge other than being a temple of salivating delights. And they're coming to Kenilworth!

    24 Mar 2006, 18:03

  9. Bah, they would wait until I'm about to finish uni…

    25 Mar 2006, 00:03

  10. Michael Jones

    Tesco all the way – I can't see why the Boar thought it worth running a big story about someone living on Tesco Value stuff, I do it all the time (not quite exclusively, but certainly primarily). Incidentally, I'm not sure if the guy who wrote that is used to living on truffles and caviar or something, but he was turning his nose up at stuff I quite happily exist on.

    25 Mar 2006, 00:25

  11. I swing; Lidl for non-vegetable core foods and Asda for any other food.

    25 Mar 2006, 01:57

  12. i'm a waitrose fan.
    i have no clue where sainsbury's is in leam and i'd quite like to know as i have trouble finding the cheeses i want in the other supermarkets and my one at home has them.
    in leam, for convenience i tend to shop a mix of costcutters/somerfield but because i'm more concerned about what i''m buying i need to go to both to get the stuff i really want. i'm a fusspot really.
    so if there was a waitrose next door my wishes would probably be answered.

    25 Mar 2006, 10:03

  13. SAinsbury's definitely. Everything there spells the word: FRESH!!!

    25 Mar 2006, 10:15

  14. Sainsbury's employee today "when I'm a student I'm definately gonna shop at Asda

    25 Mar 2006, 10:39

  15. I was going to say Tesco, but then I realised that I don't really have that much information on other supermarkets to compare. I go to Tesco because it's closest both at home and at Warwick.

    25 Mar 2006, 11:22

  16. The Sainsbury's in Leam is at Shires – out of town on the south side, on the way to the M40. Not easily reachable without a car. I have been very disappointed with this Sainsbury's, though – they seem to have replaced their selections of standard food (take the tiny selection of fresh meat, for example) with loads of exotic things, which, as a student on a limited budget, I can't afford, and probably wouldn't choose to buy anyway. I';ve found the same with Waitrose. Having said that, the Sainbury's back at home always seemed better, but then I was only ever employed as trolley-pusher by my Mum and wasn't actually choosing the food for myself.

    The Somerfield in south Leam probably wouldn't exist but for the custom of Warwick students without cars!

    25 Mar 2006, 11:27

  17. M&S – hands down, but since no such supermarket in Leam, then Sainsbury's will have to do.

    25 Mar 2006, 11:29

  18. There's an M&S on the parade.

    25 Mar 2006, 11:54

  19. Having worked for Tesco and currently with Asda I can say there are several important issues, Asda though being cheaper has poorer quality stuff than sainsburys and in leam, convenience is either of these two. Sainsburys is getting better on price, but if your looking for quality that will last longer, particularly on fresh stuff its the place to go. Tescos in warwick is probably the best option, with price and quality in the middle of the other two. But inside info is that Asda in Leam might not be one for that long. Falling sales and a general policy change by wallmart suggests that there is going to be a sell off with Tesco likely to take control of all Asda's, though this is only a rumour at the mo. As for bigger companies putting smaller independant shops out of business, this isnt the case, though illegal, many smaller traders take advantage of the offers in supermarkets and then sell on for the normal price to increase their profit margins… and several pubs do the same thing. Its widely known as you tend to get the same customers buying large amounts of the same stuff week in week out, and they are known as shop keepers or landlords.

    25 Mar 2006, 12:06

  20. No chance. If Asda's is sold by Walmart – which I'd be surprised by – then there's no way Tescos will be allowed to buy them. At best they might be able to buy a handful of their stores, but the Competition Commission would stand in the way of Tesco's buying any more UK food retailers, unless they wanted to turn them into 'homeware-only' stores. Hmm… Tesco Sofas… Could happen.

    25 Mar 2006, 12:29

  21. For anyone living in South/Central Leam, it's gotta be Nisa Today I'm shocked it hasn't appeared on the above list yet!

    OK, so it's seriously cheap and not so cheerful, run by a moody Polish chick and a crazy Chinese woman with thick glasses (who incidentally now has her own group on Facebook), and too oft frequented by the dredges of Leamington society…but it's got such great deals!

    Dr Oetker pizzas currently going for £1.04, down by a quid; 2-for-1 on Sugar Puffs, and i got some delicious smoked salmon from there for 85p last week. So what, you might say, but I do my big fornightly shop there, and the total never goes above £17. You can't beat that.

    Also, I totally agree with Sarah's mad props to the Globe – brilliant for curries and such good value.

    Doidge, I wouldn't have too much faith in the Competition Commission…it won't be reporting back on the state of supermarkets for another 2 years. And in the last report they couldn't find any evidence of Supermarkets behaving badly because suppliers had been bullied into silence.

    25 Mar 2006, 12:42

  22. Yeh when I say buying them out, I mean like Asda will be forced out of business due to the split from Walmart and the site in leam will then be bought by tesco who would see it as a valuable acquisition. Mainly due to the fact that with all the students around there is little in the way of competition by tescos in the immediate leam area. The structure of Asda is such, I get this from the managers in Leam, that without Walmart as the covering financially, Asda is not viable, and even if Asda stays afloat the one in Leam is not really hitting targets so could be one of the most likely to close and let Tesco step in to buy the site. Alternatively, there has been rumours among some of the locals that there is an investor looking to make an out of town night club to compete with those up town, though not related to the Asda site it might be somethin that comes up in years to come

    25 Mar 2006, 18:36

  23. Ooh – very interesting Miss Nicholson. See, I don't comment on "proper" subjects but food – I'm there! WRT other comments then…

    Ed/Chris – Waitrose is indeed lovely. As is John Lewis in general. But it's just a little too expensive to justify – plus they're big on their "Organic is the way forward" thing which pisses me off.
    Helen – I watched a programme a while ago (something with various TV chefs on) when they said that Asda's Special range (whatever theirs is called – the Asda version of Finest or Taste The Difference) chocolate puds were actually the best you could buy.

    RE the Leam Sainsbury's – it has gone down hill slightly, but due to the joy of loyalty cards (which actually give you awards – Jon and I have a free pass to a health spa for the day from our Nectar Card!) we generally go there nowadays. In my first year it was Tesco, but that was a convenience thing (Costcutter on campus are truly awful) and a joint decision with my hallmates. In my second year(s) it was Asda because it was cheap but there was a good range of fresh stuff. Tesco occasionally, but I find their fresh stuff sometimes leaves a little to be desired. Now though, if it's a big shop, it'll most likely be Sainsbury's, as we can start to afford slightly better food – alongside that, though, I love the Costcutters in Leam because they sell such a fantastic range of local produce (like all Costcutters, in theory) and the people know me and are nice. It's the kind of shop you feel comfortable saying "arg – I'm 5p short – is that okay?" and you know they'll say yes.

    And finally RE M&S – yes they do good food, but it falls into the Waitrose bracket for me. Just not good enough to warrant the expense – it's hardly "designer"...


    26 Mar 2006, 12:45

  24. I disagree. We did copious amounts of taste testing to come to this result. It was hard but we managed.

    26 Mar 2006, 18:36

  25. I have long argued that Tesco is somewhat like the BBC of supermarkets – a widely available public service. It almost has the feel of a state facility with shops in practically each town and an average market share of 30-odd percent.

    26 Mar 2006, 18:38

  26. James

    Selfridge's Food Hall. No I can't quite call it my local supermarket, but if the question is which is the best, that is the answer. Waitrose and Sainsbury otherwise, in descending order. Both have wine ranges a cut above the other supermarkets, if you're looking for something to add to the pasta sauce.

    26 Mar 2006, 20:17

  27. Michael Jones

    If I'm looking for something to add to the pasta sauce, I use Marmite.

    27 Mar 2006, 01:45

  28. Leighton Joskey

    I recall from when I used to work at Safeway head office, that the primary factor for people choosing one store over another was location (or covenience if you like), then cost perception, then quality. That's why there is such fierce competition for sites amongst the supermarkets.

    It always made me laugh to look at the value product lines the supermarkets produced – actively designed to look cheap. The costs of printing labels that way was the same as much more interesting designs, just people simply didn't believe the product was good value unless it looked a bit pikey.

    27 Mar 2006, 11:58

  29. guest

    you've all forgotten the finest of them all – M&S! Beautiful food, no nasty branded products, awesome veg…only problem is the cost…

    27 Mar 2006, 23:21

  30. I hate going to any supermarket – much prefer the supermarket coming to me! That's why I shop with Ocado and get Waitrose food delivered to my door. I use this for kitchen cupboard stuff and household items then get all fresh fruit and veg, bread, dairy and meat from local producers/shops.

    Ocado has been great – only one cancelled delivery in over a year, for which they gave us £25 of vouchers. Additionally you also get the odd free bottle of wine/box of chocolates.

    It is not much more expensive, you tend not to impulse buy and you don't have to deal with the usual supermarket joys of waiting at tills for old people to count their coppers out.

    I have not used home delivery from other shops, but I have heard that they can be hit and miss.

    Wow – I have become an unoffical customer advocate – marketing people at Ocado, listen up and give me more free stuff!

    28 Mar 2006, 10:19

  31. Hmmm, interesting. Our household has recently ventured into the realms of home delivery. Tesco have been pretty reliable so far… they've even sent us more than we ordered but not charged us for it (I've inherited at least 4 pints of milk this way). I don't quite understand, though, why their fresh produce is a lot better from home delivery than it is in the shop.

    28 Mar 2006, 13:42

  32. Leighton Joskey

    It all depends where they pick the goods. Some online services get produce from the nearest store, some from distribution centers. Not sure about how tesco do it, but they will probably tend to pick from the back of the shelf in store or get the best from the distribution center.

    Though for fresh veg and fruit, the supermarkets (with the exception of Waitrose) never fail to disappoint.

    28 Mar 2006, 17:09

  33. Lucy Griffiths

    mmm food. I'll shop wherever I choose really – the joys of being paid properly and owning a car! Sainsbury's is right by where I work (the Shires one) but isn't that great – Tile Hill has a better selection generally in terms of clothing and interesting food (esp if you're looking for ingrediants for Asian cuisine). Tesco in Canley is shite for choice and is very student focused (lots of noodle and pasta sauce offers) but then it probably gets a good deal of its profits from that particular group of people. The best gem I've found so far is Morrisons the other side of the traffic lights from Hearsall common – only a 15min or so walk from Earlsdon and the food is very good and very reasonable. Asda in Leam is great for clothes, but I'm not a fan of their food, although it is cheaper. I like the fact that Sainsbury's seem to be more Fairtrade orientated than the other major shops, and if I could buy all my food fair trade I would! The best place for me (although impossible to get to unless you have a car and enough money) is Ryton Organic Gardens which is fab. All the veg is grown on the premisis and their supermarket is totally organic or fairtrade. Only get to go on special occasions though! Even with a full time job getting everything from local sources is a bit too expensive (oh try Cov market for meat – no more expensive than tesco and SO much better quality).
    M&S – good chocolate pudding. Otherwise not that special tbh.

    29 Mar 2006, 16:59

  34. The layout of Asda and the general presentation of everything makes a really crap shopping experience.
    Sainsburys on the other hand is a much better place to shop, and veg tends to be nicer too.

    Asda do crap chicken breasts – every time I've got some they have some black shit stuck to them.

    29 Mar 2006, 17:09

  35. M&S would have won the pudding competition were it not for the cost.

    29 Mar 2006, 19:00

  36. this question is a bit of an Alan Partridge question:
    "Who is the best Lord? Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, or Lord of the Dance?"

    I reckon all supermakrets are shite. Waitraose is best but obviously more expensive.

    04 Apr 2006, 15:28

  37. If I were rich I'd go to M&S.
    If I were poor and not sensible I would go to Sainsbury's – for the quality, presentation, choice and shopping environment.
    If I were poor and sensible I would go to Tesco or Asda because they're cheaper.

    But I'm not sensible so I go to Sainsbury's. Also I'm reluctant to support Tesco and Asda. Tesco's stores are too large and they control too much of the market. And Asda belongs to the evil walmart family, I say throw rocks at Asda.

    04 Apr 2006, 16:11

  38. was talking to a friend from cambridge who said sainsbury's was expensive which is a pain as it's the most available one in town.

    04 Apr 2006, 20:19

  39. I agree with Vincent – you guys all need to read Blythman's "Shopped" and log on to to order you veg box. Now THATS convenience – i.e. not having to go to a supermarket at all!

    06 Apr 2006, 14:34

  40. Michael Jones

    Lord of the Dance, definitely. I read Lord of the Flies for GCSE and found it direly boring, and Lord of the Rings isn't much better.

    13 Apr 2006, 01:38

  41. Lulu

    TO me food is food. And doesn't matter where it comes from…though i think location is key. if a sainsburys were at cannon park instead of tesco, they i'd be sayin that i'm a saisburys gal…but because tesco is there instead, i'm a tesco gal. I don't really care really, as long as the food is reasonably priced, i'm good!

    13 Apr 2006, 15:20

  42. I'm disappointed that people don't care more about where there food comes from and what its costing (in terms of poverty and environment). But I s'pose I shouldn't get on my soap–box about it. From experience people who don't care simply haven't had an opportunity to taste anything better. Fresh stuff in particular is c*** at a supermarket. Overpriced, under–ripe tasteless and foreign. Make an effort to try something different and you won't go back to supermarket stuff again. It doesn't even look or smell appetising! Its certainly doesn't encourage creative thinking about food – remember eating is supposed to be enjoyable – not just "re–fuelling"! (Although I admit, I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else sometimes – there's just not enought time). I would love to be able to spend hours and hours preparing and eating a meal (with a few bottles of wine en–route of course) but that's just not practical most of the time – but there is a balance…

    14 Jun 2006, 14:46

  43. Calum Duncan

    Somefield all the way by far the cheapest if you compare your recipt to Asda online. Plus i need business delivery which i get free, such ashame they sut dawn as Tesco continue to take over the planet. If I could I would take a JCB to every Tesco in Scotland, they build everywhere, demolish listed buildings and build behind old peoples homes!! I hate them!!!! (you might have guest!!)

    20 Apr 2007, 20:38

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