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Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda: which is the cheapest UK supermarket?

Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda: which is the cheapest UK supermarket?

If you are looking for the cheapest supermarket to do your weekly shop, new research suggests you'll be better off at a deep discounter.

John Fitzsimons

Household money

John Fitzsimons
Updated on 13 February 2024

The cost of our food remains a significant concern. While food price inflation has dropped from its staggering peak of 19% last March, to 8% in the 12 months to December 2023, it is nonetheless very high.

As a result, the Office for National Statistics reckons the overall cost of our food rose by 26% between December 2022 and last December.

And subsequently our household budgets continue to be put under severe pressure by the cost of our shopping.

That’s why finding the best value for money when heading out for your food shopping is so important.

So which UK supermarket is the cheapest?

The cheapest supermarket

The team at Which? run a useful study each month, which in January involved monitoring the price each day of 72 items to make up its basic trolley.

It then used these daily prices to produce an average cost for that trolley of goods for the month.

Of course, when it comes to own-label items, what’s on offer isn’t identical between the different stores.

So Which? adapts the calculations to take into account things like weight and quality.

How the supermarkets compare

Here’s how the various supermarkets included in the study shape up, based on this basket of items:

Supermarket

Basket cost

Aldi

£129.24

Lidl

£132.37

Asda

£145.75

Tesco

£149.11

Sainsbury’s

£153.50

Morrisons

£156.05

Ocado

£157.15

Waitrose

£170.44


As you can see, there’s quite a contrast there between the deep discounters and the more premium outlets like Ocado and Waitrose.

Indeed, Waitrose is £40 more expensive than Aldi.

Interestingly, while Lidl dominated this study last year ‒ topping the table on 11 out of 12 months ‒ it is its deep discounter rival Aldi which has started 2024 in first place.

It’s also important to bear in mind that this study takes into account special offers, but not loyalty scheme discounts.

Given the way a host of supermarkets now offer lower prices on certain items to members of their loyalty schemes, it may be that the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s work out more budget-friendly if you are a Clubcard or Nectar member, for example.

The bigger trolley

Of course, most of us end up picking up a more substantial number of goods when we go grocery shopping, so Which? carried out a similar study with a total of 188 items.

That’s the original 72 goods and an additional 116 items on top.

Importantly Which? says that it doesn’t want to publish the list of items it uses for the study, to ensure supermarkets cannot ‘game’ the study by focusing price cuts on them.

However, as the additional items are not always available at the deep discounters, Aldi and Lidl aren’t included in this study.

Here’s how the supermarkets compare on the larger shopping basket:

Supermarket

Basket cost

Asda

£475.06

Morrisons

£496.68

Ocado

£504.82

Tesco

£506.12

Sainsbury’s

£516.82

Waitrose

£519.43


Asda once again claimed top spot for the bigger trolley.

In fact, July 2023 is the only time in which it hasn’t been the cheapest dating back to January 2020.

In this latest study it was more than £40 cheaper than Waitrose, a difference that can really add up over time.

The Grocer study

Which? isn’t the only organisation to take a keen eye on supermarket pricing.

Industry bible The Grocer also tracks prices, as well as other supermarket features like service and product availability, at a rotating list of supermarkets each week.

Its latest survey had Asda come out top with the basket of selected goods coming to £72.14.

That was ahead of Sainsbury’s (£72.47), Tesco (£74.66), Morrisons (£74.35), and Waitrose (£84.85).

Interestingly Asda would have been undercut by both Sainsbury’s and Tesco if you had access to the lower prices on offer to loyalty scheme members. 

It’s important to note that the deep discounters and Amazon were not included in this latest test ‒ when they have been, they have tended to perform particularly well.

Where do we want to shop?

Interestingly, our shopping habits ‒ and particularly the supermarkets we use ‒ are changing.

And it’s not in the way you might expect. In previous years the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s have lost market share as shoppers have looked for cheaper deals, but they are actually recovering now ‒ in part due to those lower prices for members. 

Tesco for example over the last 12 months has grown its market share from 27.5% to 27.6%, while Sainsbury’s has risen from 15.4% to 15.7%.

Aldi has seen its share move from 9.2% to 9.3%, and Lidl has moved from 7.1% to 7.5% over the same period.

Asda and Morrisons have perhaps been the big victims here ‒ Asda has crashed from 14.2% to 13.7%, while Morrisons has slid from 9.1% to 8.8%.

Clearly, the sales tactics employed by the big names is having an impact, and suggests that shoppers are not entirely loyal to the deep discounters.

Lidl store (Image: lovemoney - Shutterstock)

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