As you make a shopping list for the Easter supermarket shop this weekend remember two things. Supermarkets are increasing prices by stealth and that could be why Tesco could report a 30% increase in profits this week.
While milk and bread are likely to be the same as last week and the week before those items you buy infrequently could well cost more. I reckon that for every reduction there are two bigger increases in other aisles. Then there is the regular yo-yo pricing that has everyday items such as loo rolls or mayonnaise moving up and down week by week. It is a battle of attrition.
General food inflation is up 1.2% but most of us are finding that the shopping bill is more than we expect when we buy food, drink and cleaning products.
Defeat the attempts by the stores to confuse us
To win in the weekly food-shop battle you have to allow time for your shopping to defeat the attempts by the stores to confuse us. The old rules of good value no longer apply. Big boxes are not better value in many cases. Check the quantity, weight or volume when you buy. Check the price per gram or ml. It is surprising how often you will find that buying two small packs will be considerably cheaper than one large one. And cheaper still if you only need the small quantity.
Loose fruit and vegetables tend to be cheaper than pre-packaged ones and you can buy the amount you need, and check for freshness.
Vouchers encourage us to overspend
Beware the vouchers handed out by supermarkets. They are intended to get us to spend more than we would normally. I received one this morning offering me 150 loyalty points if I spend £70 in one shop in the next week. And if I spend £80 I would get 300 points. Both are more than my normal weekly spend. The 150 points are worth 75p, but only when I have spent another £350 so that I can cash in the points. Not exactly the bargain of the week.
Convenience is costly
The most expensive supermarkets are those very convenient stores as stations and on the high street. They are smaller, have less choice and are unlikely to have loose fruit and vegetables. And the special offers in the bigger stores in the group, advertised in the papers in the run up to the Bank Holiday weekend, are unlikely to be in the small stores.
As many of us try to do smaller shops to make sure that waste is reduced we have to make sure that we are not charged too much on the occasional treats, such as a bottle of wine or ready meal that is more than a £1 more than it is in the bigger stores.