Supermarkets charging shoppers 'up to three times more at local convenience stores for some products'

20 November 2018

Shoppers are being charged up to three times as much for some products at big-chain local convenience stores as they are at superstores, according to a BBC investigation. 

BBC’s Inside Out programme investigated the price difference between own-brand and branded items at two types of Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose.

It found that there was a huge difference in price for the same items between the larger shops and the convenience stores.

The supermarkets told the BBC that the price increases were because of higher operating costs at the convenience stores. This is because for many central town locations rents are much higher.

A Tesco spokesperson says: “We work hard to offer all our customers great value however they choose to shop with us. We sometimes charge a little extra for products in our convenience stores as the costs associated with running them are higher.”

Comparison between what supermarkets charge at convenience and regular stores for the same item

RetailerProductPrice in convenience storePrice in superstore
M&SRed seedless grapes, 500g£2.80£2.00
M&STea bags, box of 80£2.30£1.70
Sainsbury'sMr Kipling's French Fancies£1.95£1.60
TescoMixed peppers 420g£1.15£0.91

Source: BBC Inside Out investigation in Birmingham

Inside Out compared the prices between smaller and larger supermarkets in Birmingham between September and October.

The investigation revealed that in Marks & Spencer the same trolley of shopping cost £103.26 at the Birmingham High Street store, well below the £112.44 at Simply Food in Birmingham New Street Station.

Meanwhile, the large Tesco superstore on Camden Street, Birmingham, was charging 9p for a banana, compared to 25p at the Tesco Express in Fredrick Street - a mark-up of 177%.

At the Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer stores in Birmingham, and Waitrose shops in Shropshire, 45 of 50 items were more expensive than at the convenience stores.

At Tesco Express 39 of 50 items cost more than in the superstore.

Shopper Maggie Henning told the BBC: “It’s people like me, who need a convenience store because they can’t get to a large supermarket, that are actually paying the price for that.”

Sylvia Rook, lead officer at the  Chartered Trading Standards Institute, says deliveries to smaller stores can be more difficult.

She says: “With normal economy and supplier demand, it is often the case that smaller shops, and those in more remote areas, will charge more.

“I always think that when you look at service station petrol prices on motorways, that is very telling, because they are normally hugely more expensive but they are open 24 hours and have higher overheads.”

The show aired on 19 November at 19.30pm on BBC Inside Out West Midlands and is available on BBC iPlayer.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I wish Tesco banana was only 9p in store, I buy them every week and try to pick smaller ones from loose range, they vary from 11p t0 13p each. Living in rural areas is just as bad with only a Today store and a Co-op with very high prices, I expect that is what townies will have to pay if can't be bothered to go to main stores that are easier to get to than for people in rural areas plus they have a greater range of stores to purchase from.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Is it too surprising ?They started building supermarkets because they were a cheaper way of selling than corner shops.If you like the convenience, pay the price. If not walk the walk.

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