January 2016's cheapest supermarketWe compare the cost of a basket of groceries

04 February 2016

Supermarket shopping trolley with vegetables in it

Asda started the year on a high, as the cheapest for our supermarket basket in January 2016

January's a time for squeezed budgets, as we all recover from the Christmas blow out. So it's even more important to get the best deal on unavoidable expenses, such as your weekly shop.

In the first month of 2016, we found that Asda was cheapest for our basket of branded groceries. Asda charged £166.93 for the 84 products, which was £14.55 less than the most expensive supermarket.

Asda is routinely cheapest for our basket comparison. However, you might be surprised by who came an unexpected third this month.

You can find out which supermarket this was and what Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose charged this month, and what all the supermarkets charged for our basket over the past year. 

Check out supermarket prices compared.

Supermarkets in January 2016

After going through an accounting scandal in 2015, Tesco's torrid time continued in 2016 - in January the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) found Tesco guilty of not treating its suppliers fairly. The year-long investigation found that Tesco had delayed payments to suppliers and that it sometimes did this to improve its own financial position.

Although the government handed the GCA the power to fine supermarkets up to 1% of their annual revenue, the offences allegedly took place before this. So Tesco will not be fined. The adjudicator's report states that it is working with Tesco to implement the recommendations from the investigation.

However, what do Tesco's customers think of it? Every year we survey thousands of supermarket shoppers to find out what they think about their supermarket, asking about everything from trolleys to prices. Which? members can find out which supermarkets are rated best by visiting the best and worst supermarkets.

Supermarket price comparison schemes

You'll find that most supermarkets have a price matching scheme, which means they compare their prices against other supermarkets. They will often give you a voucher for the difference if your shopping would have been cheaper elsewhere. 

Tesco has changed its price comparison scheme and now deducts money at the till or as you pay the bill online, so should charge the same as Asda for our basket. However, you need to buy at least ten items to qualify for the scheme.

Do read the small print, as the schemes vary:

  • Asda checks against Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose or Morrisons. Asda will give you a voucher for the difference if it isn't 10% cheaper
  • Morrisons no longer has a price match scheme
  • Ocado price matches against Tesco and will give you a voucher for the difference
  • Sainsbury's has a price match for branded items only and compares against Asda
  • Tesco checks your prices against Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Tesco will give you a voucher for the difference if it's cheaper elsewhere
  • Waitrose price matches Tesco on branded items and these are the prices it sells for. 

Which?'s price comparison basket

We compare branded grocery prices at the online supermarkets Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose, using data from the independent shopping website Mysupermarket.

Every month we look at the prices of between 70 and 100 products, which include a range of everyday items, from bread to fruit juice, and vary from month to month.

We average the prices and include discounts, but not multibuys. 

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