Supermarkets deny price differences

A list, on paper or stored on your mobile phone, could help you to stick to what you need. Photograph: PA
A list, on paper or stored on your mobile phone, could help you to stick to what you need. Photograph: PA

A Citizens Advice Bureau survey is claiming that some shops in Dumfries and Galloway are charging three times as much as others for the same basket of items.

A ‘Cost of Living’ report by Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service (D&G CAS) has found that the cost of a basket of essential everyday items ranged from £8.79 to £24.70 across the region.

Other findings include: shoppers in the poorest and more rural areas are on average paying the highest prices; all of the big supermarket chains are charging very different prices for the same items in different stores just a few miles apart; Nappies and tampons, critical items, have some of the largest price differentials and in fact are often unavailable in local shops.

However Co-Op said that the survey was flawed as it did not offer a like for like comparison on products or brands, and that prices of like for like products in the Dalbeattie and Moffat Co-op stores are the same.

Tesco said the report is ‘fundamentally flawed’ by not comparing like for like products and the conclusions are simply wrong.

D&G CAS Chief Executive Sue Irving said: “We did similar research in 2014 and found significant price variations then, so we wanted to update that research to see if the problems still existed. Our report today shows that local shops are still charging hugely different prices in different areas, and those shoppers paying the most are often those who can least afford it.

“Our report this time also uncovers a significant issue with the big supermarket chains. We found that all of these are charging significantly different prices for the same items in their individual stores.

“We can see no obvious justification for this and so we intend to write to all of the supermarket chains to ask for an explanation of their pricing policies. Overall the research finds that the price variations we first uncovered three years ago still exist, and indeed in many ways have got worse. Clearly our evidence suggests that people could make savings by shopping around, but the size and geography of our region makes that difficult, particularly for those on low incomes and those reliant on public transport.

“Shops are an important part of any local community. We understand that transportation costs are a concern for all businesses but we ask that the supermarket chains will reflect on the data we have published today and ensure that they are treating customers fairly.”

A Co-Op spokesperson said: “The survey does not offer a like for like comparison on products or brands. It is like comparing apples with pears and discredits the findings of the report. We always aim to offer value to our customers and our own-brand goods provide members with a 5% reward, which gives cash back to shoppers, something not reflected in the survey.

“Our ongoing price investment strategy on fresh food and essentials helps to lower the cost of every day products at our stores, which are in every postal area and are open long hours for the convenience of our customers.”

Co-Op said that prices of like for like products in the Dalbeattie and Moffat Co-op stores are the same.

Tesco said that the research is ‘fundamentally flawed’ by not comparing like for like products and the conclusions are simply wrong.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are committed to serving shoppers across Dumfries and Galloway and are proud to bring customers a great range of products. Our UK wide pricing policy means Tesco prices are exactly the same in Lockerbie as they are in Castle Douglas.”