Waitrose and Co-op cut prices as Christmas battle heats up

Laura Onita
·2-min read
Waitrose store
Waitrose store

Waitrose and the Co-op have cut prices on hundreds of products this week in the latest sign that a Christmas price war is taking hold. 

The UK’s sixth and eighth-largest supermarkets have reduced the prices of more than 200 and 300 essential items respectively by an average of 15pc. 

The moves come after other rivals also lowered prices as shoppers seeking more bargains. Items including honey, pork steaks and laundry liquid will cost less at Waitrose. Boss James Bailey said “times are tough for many”.

The Co-op invested £50m to bring down the price for fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, rice, pasta and coffee. It is also launching a new low-price range called Honest Value.

Jo Whitfield, the chief executive of the Co-op’s supermarkets, said “value is uppermost in the minds of shoppers”.

Her remarks echo those of David Potts at Morrisons, who said the price cuts on 400 items last month were in response to the “tough year” that consumers have endured. 

Asda also invested £100m on price cuts, while and Sainsbury's has reduced prices on more than 1000 own-brand products since February.

Tesco discounted hundreds of products exclusively for members of its Clubcard loyalty scheme last month, and expanded its Aldi price-matching campaign.

The traditional supermarkets are fighting hard to keep shoppers from defecting to German discounters Aldi and Lidl, which now hold a combined 14pc of the grocery market. 

Restrictions on socialising and the end of the government’s furlough scheme could also mean households spend less in the run-up to Christmas than usual. 

Prices have dropped through the summer after a 2.5pc rise in inflation in the first month of the nationwide lockdown.

By the first week of August, the bill for groceries was around 0.5pc higher than it was at the beginning of the year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said this week.