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Does Tesco’s January sale offer the cheapest prices?

We've crunched the numbers and found deals that aren't as good as they seem

Tesco ran plenty of promotional sales last year to celebrate its centenary, and the supermarket giant is continuing the party with a new January sale – but are the deals legit?

According to Tesco, 24% of consumers look for deals to help them save money in the new year. This prompted the supermarket to launch a January sale offering price cuts to all, also reintroducing Clubcard Prices which offer exclusive deals to Clubcard holders.

We know that supermarket special offers aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be – as we found when we looked at the launch of the Tesco 100 year anniversary deals and Sainsbury’s price lockdown.

So, how do the new deals stack up? Below, we reveal the ‘bargains’ that aren’t as good as they seem, and explain whether you could still save money with the current offers.


January sales don’t give the cheapest price

To find out how good Tesco’s new January offers are, we used MySupermarket data to look at the prices of products included in the sale or the Clubcard Prices promotion for the six months between June and December 2019.

When we compared the price of 10 items included in the 2020 January sale with their prices in the six months to December, we found that eight were the same price at other times of the year.

Colgate Max White Gel Toothpaste (125ml) is £1.75 in the sale, reduced from £3.50. But we found that it was the same price for at least 14 weeks in the second half of 2019.

A pack of five plain New York bagels are £1 until 27 Jan, reduced from £1.60. This same discount was also applied for 15 weeks between June and December 2019.

McCain Home Chips Chunky Cut (1Kg) are half price – reduced to £1.45 – but were the same price for at least six weeks in the six-month period, including for the three weeks directly before the start of the January sale.

While Tesco doesn’t claim that these are the cheapest prices it’s ever offered, we think it would be reasonable for shoppers to assume they were paying less than they usually would. However, looking at the graph above, some products’ prices clearly go up and down on a fairly regular basis.

There were a couple of good deals to be had – Goodfella’s Stonebaked Thin Margherita Pizza (345g) is £1.12 until 27 January, while the cheapest price in the previous six months was £1.50.

PG Tips Pyramid Tea Bags (200) are also the cheapest they’ve been in at least six months, with half price off reducing them from £5.60 to £2.80 (previous cheapest price of £3).

Tesco Clubcard deals

There are 19 million Tesco Clubcard holders, all able to access ‘exclusive’ deals and vouchers as well as collecting points.

We looked at seven of the products that are currently cheaper for Clubcard holders than other shoppers, and found that two were the same price at other times of the year.

This included Nescafé Azera Americano Coffee Bags (10), which are £1.50 for Clubcard holders but were the same price for everyone for at least three weeks in September 2019. Twinings Cold Infuse Starter Pack (3) is also included in the Clubcard deals, priced at £4.99 instead of £9.99, but the discounted price was available to all and sundry for at least three weeks in July and August.

Some Clubcard deals do follow through on Tesco’s motto of ‘every little helps’, including three varieties of Heinz Soup of the Day that are 98p in the Clubcard offers – 2p less than the cheapest price we found in the second half of 2019.

The deals we included in our analysis are available to all members of Tesco’s free Clubcard scheme, but in October last year the supermarket giant announced a new ‘Clubcard Plus’ loyalty scheme that costs £7.99 a month.

Tesco pricing

Tesco targeted shoppers with a series of sales through 2019, so it’s not hugely surprising that some products were on offer multiple times between June and December.

What it does mean, though, is that there’s no need to rush into buying something you don’t really need just because it’s on offer – as, according to our research, the chances are it’ll be discounted again in the not-too-distant future.

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