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1 Sep 2019

Shoppers are ditching branded groceries to cut costs - but where can you buy them for less?

Discover how to bag branded bargains and avoid dubious discounts

Shoppers are saying goodbye to branded goods as they seek to save money on their weekly shop, but there's always room in the basket for posh tea and coffee.

A survey by TopCashback.co.uk asked 2,064 people about their shopping habits, and found that people are spending £11.57 less on groceries than they were last year, with £10.13 of that reduction coming from branded groceries.

Here, we take a look at the brands consumers are ditching, and which supermarket offers the cheapest prices on branded goods.

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Which brands are shoppers cutting back on?

Though the survey didn't ask about specific brands individually, it did ask shoppers which kinds of brands they would give up if money was tight.

Consumers said they were most likely to cut back on confectionery, followed by condiments and cleaning products. You can see the full list below:

Shoppers were also asked which types of brands they would always buy, even if money was tight. Tea and coffee were the runaway winners.

Based on these percentages, shoppers appear more likely to give up some of the biggest brands rather than stay loyal to them. See the table below for the full results:

While these results give an indication of which items shoppers prioritise, keep in mind that those surveyed were all members of a cashback shopping site, so they're not necessarily representative of the general public.

Which supermarket has the best prices on branded groceries?

If you want to save on your weekly shop without ditching your favourite brands, it's important to shop around for the best deal.

Each month, Which? analyses the market to see which supermarket sells popular products at the lowest prices.

We track a basket of 66 branded items which are sold in Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. Items include Alpen muesli, Andrex toilet roll, Cathedral City cheddar cheese and PG Tips tea bags.

In July, Sainsbury's came out on top, with the basket costing a total of £138.12 - £1.25 less than Asda, which was second cheapest.

The most expensive shop was Waitrose, which charged £13.54 more than Sainsbury's for the same items.

The cheapest supermarket for brands changes from month to month. At the end of 2018, we found that Morrisons had been cheapest on average for the year, while Waitrose was again the most expensive.

The average price of our shopping basket for 2018 at each supermarket.

How to save money on branded tea and coffee

Since tea and coffee brands came top of the 'would always buy' part of the above survey, we compared the July prices for 80 PG Tips Pyramid Tea Bags at each of these supermarkets.

Asda and Morrisons boasted the lowest prices, averaging £2 over the month. The most expensive supermarkets were Ocado and Waitrose, with averages of £2.49.

It was a different story for Kenco Smooth Coffee (200g), however. This was cheapest at Sainsbury's, which sold it for £4.70, and most expensive at Morrisons, where it was £6.47.

Misleading special offers at supermarkets

In August, Which? drew attention to the suspicious special offers and dubious discounts that supermarkets are offering.

We tracked the prices of 450 products available at seven online supermarkets (the above six plus Iceland), and found 65 instances of 'special offers' that weren't as special as they seemed.

These 'deals' were spread across all the supermarkets, apart from Sainsbury's.

Dodgy discounts and never-ending offers

Questionable offers included misleading multibuy promotions.

For example, Iceland was selling boxes of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for £2.99 each or 2 for £4 on the week of 3 September 2018. This would have been a good bargain if the cereal wasn't £1.49 a box the previous week.

There were also 'was £x, now £x' products that spent more of the year at the lower price, even though this framing suggests the higher price is the norm.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: 'Four years on from our super-complaint on misleading pricing practices, many of the big supermarkets are clearly still in the wrong, with numerous examples of dodgy discounts and never-ending offers.

'These retailers must stop tricking shoppers with deceptive deals and spurious special offers. If not, the Competition and Markets Authority must intervene to ensure that pricing guidelines are followed.