Supermarket price wars ‘a sham’

The so-called price wars between supermarket chains over the past year have been exposed as a sham by new data from market research company AGB Taylor-Nelson.

The company also says promises of intense price competitiveness between supermarkets leading up to Christmas failed to materialise.

Last year supermarkets, including Asda and Tesco, based their marketing on a low-price strategy leading to claims in the press of a price war. These chains, for instance, each claimed in their ad campaigns to offer the lowest prices on products such as fruit and vegetables in the last quarter.

In a report prepared by AGB exclusively for Marketing Week’s RetailScan, the research company says that supermarket prices rose strongly over the past year with the biggest rises occurring in the second half.

The sharpest increase was in September, when prices rose by six per cent, compared with the same month in the previous year. Inflation was running at between two and three per cent last year, although final figures are not yet available.

AGB says retailers could have reduced prices more at Christmas: “While some increases will be passed on from manufacturer price rises, there was some room for real price reductions – but this opportunity was not taken at Christmas.”

The report says Asda and Safeway have been holding price increases to a lower overall level than rivals Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

RetailScan, page 24

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here