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Which UK Supermarket Do You Shop At?

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published January 7th 2014
Image from Wikipedia

Are you a loyal customer or do you have multiple affairs with different supermarkets. It was once the case that most of us stuck with one supermarket, but these days customer loyalty is harder to come by as we all search for the best value we can get.

What is it that makes you choose to go to a particular supermarket? Is it the price, the quality, habit, or the convenience of its location? Do loyalty schemes or the fact that they are endorsed by celebrity chefs influence you in any way? Are there any supermarkets that you would not step foot in, and why?

Grocery sales show that the top UK supermarkets are Tescos, Asda, Sainsbury's, and Morrison's. They are known as the Big Four. Together they are very competitive, always doing price comparisons and trying to come up with the best deals.


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Founded 1919 by Jack Cohen from a market stall in London's East End. It is now Britain's biggest supermarket chain and operates in eleven other countries.

Strap line: Every Little Helps
Loyalty Scheme: Tesco Club Card - 1 point for every 1 spent, 1 point = 1p


Image from Wikipedia

Founded in 1869 by John and Mary Sainsbury, it is the second largest chain supermarket.

Strap line: Eat Well For Less
Loyalty Scheme: Nectar Card - 2 points for every 1 spent, 1 point = 0.5p
Celebrity chef: Jamie Oliver

This is where we do our big shop. There is a Sainsbury's very close to us, so it probably started out of convenience, and now it is just habit. I have become disenchanted with Sainsbury's over the past year or two for several reasons:

1. Bogus Money Saving Deals - they give you vouchers that have such a short validity that by the time you go shopping again they can't be used. Their vouchers always seem to come with several other catches that make them useless. I would rather that they saved money on ink, paper, and the environment, and not bother with them all together.

2. Getting Swindled at the Till - Often we find ourselves getting charged for the same item twice.

3. Confusing Labels - There are often money off or two for one deals on many of their products, but the labelling is very confusing. When you get to the checkout, you find that the deal was not for the item you thought it was.

4. Constantly Movings Products - Sainsbury's constantly moves its products to different shelves and isles. You don't know where your items are going to be from one week to the next.

5. Constantly Changing Recipes - When it comes to their own brand products, I have recently seen a surge of new labels saying 'new improved recipe'. When checking the nutritional information on the back, these so-called 'improvements' have downgraded the healthiness of the product, and they actually taste worse too.


Image from Wikipedia

Originally called Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Limited, the company was founded in 1949 in Leeds. The name Asda was later adopted in 1965; it is the third biggest chain and generally has the lowest prices of the Big Four.

Strap line: Saving You Money Everyday
Loyalty Scheme: None

I like to go to Asda to pick up the essentials. If I need to get fruit and vegetable for my pets, then Ill go here because of their cheaper prices.


Image from Wikipedia

First opened in 1899 by William Morrison, it was originally just a convenience store selling eggs and butter. The store was later taken over by his son, Ken Morrison in 1952, and expanded the company. The first supermarket launched in 1961, and it now the fourth biggest in the UK.

Strap line: More of What Matters
Loyalty Scheme: None
Celebrity chef: Gordon Ramsay


Courtesy of Derek Harper via Wikimedia Commons

There are several other popular supermarkets after the Big Four. For example Netto, along with German stores Aldi and Lidl are 'no frills supermarkets'. The ability to 'spend a little, live a lot', comes from its minimalist approach: products are not displayed to look attractive, and are often left in the container crates they arrived in, there is only a small number of staff, and most of the products are own brands. I have never shopped in any of these stores, - partly because there are none nearby - but I must admit, I am rather taken with Aldi's 'I like these, but I also like these' adverts.

Iceland is another very low budget store, and specialises in frozen goods. It has often been classed as 'common', which was not helped by using Kerry Katona as a marketing tool. I was never really one way or the other about this store, but after watching a recent documentary, quite frankly, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

Then there are the more upmarket stores, which are more expensive, but have great quality. My favourite is Marks & Spencer, which after Sainsbury's, we do most of our shopping at. You can really taste the difference compared to the food at other stores. Whereas Sainsbury's meat is chewy and fatty, M&S's is tender and lean. Where as Sainsbury's soft fruit goes rotten as soon as you get it home, M&S's lasts, and tastes much juicier.

We have also become quite fond of Waitrose after a mini-shop opened on the high street. It is convenient to pop in and buy a loaf of bread, and they have lots of quality baked goods.
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The list you use is by sales the 5th biggest by Sales is the The Co-operative Group..
But the largest by far, by number of outlets is The Co-operative Group with a thousand more branches than Tesco. Other regional Co-operatives own another 1000 supermarkets/C stores.
by jharr0 (score: 1|11) 3132 days ago

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