Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Retail Memo: Morrisons Beats Asda in UK Holiday Market Basket Price Survey... Not Just By A Nose But Also By A 'Mama Mia' DVD

What do whole turkeys, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, After Eight Mints, Aunt Bessie's yorkshire puddings, Ferraro Rocher chocolates, the "Mama Mia DVD and 27 other Christmas holiday-oriented items have in common in the United Kingdom?

Give up?

All 33 items, which also include Hardys Stamp Shiraz-Cabernet, Sauvignon wine, crackers, all the trimmings for the whole turkey and more, were included in a 33 item holiday festival market basket price comparison conducted this week by the United Kingdom trade publication The Grocer.

The British food and grocery industry trade publication compared the retail prices of 33 traditional (we're not sure how the "Mama Mia" DVD got in there though. But more on that later) British yuletide celebration treats at stores run by the UK's leading supermarket chains -- Tesco, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.-owned Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Waitrose. In terms of market share, Tesco is the number one chain in the UK, followed by number two Asda, number three Sainsbury's and Morrisons, at number four. Waitrose is about number six or seven, after the Co-op (number five) and about tied with Marks & Spencer, but is considered the country's leading upscale supermarket chain.

The results

Morrisons came in first place in the holiday food, grocery, drink and gift item market basket (or trolley as it's often called in the UK) price comparison.

The supermarket chain is currently selling the 33 typical yuletide treats, including turkey and all the trimmings, crackers, alcohol and gifts, for just £112.06 (pounds).

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc-owned Asda came in a close second place, selling the 33-item holiday trolley basket of goods for £113.32, only £1.26 higher than Morrisons.

Tesco, the UK's top supermarket chain, came in third Its 33-item holiday goody basket costing £117.76.

Purchasing the 33 holiday items at Sainsbury's costs considerably more, £124.85, putting the chain in fourth place, while upscale supermarket chain Waitrose placed last in the 33-item holiday food, grocery, alcohol and gift market basket price survey, with a total cost of £141, which not only is substantially higher (£28.94 more) than winner Morrisons, but also is even much higher than second-to-last place Sainsbury's.

The competition was fierce between Morrisons and Asda.

According to The Grocer, Morrisons has 13 of the lowest priced holiday items on the list, including several chocolate, gift and alcohol items, such as Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Hardys Stamp Shiraz-Cabernet, Sauvignon and the whole turkey.

However, the survey found that Asda fell to second place despite providing 16 of the cheapest or same priced as Morrisons' items - the most of all the retailers. Among these 16 items included After Eight Mints, Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings and Ocean Spray cranberry juice.

How could this be?

The 'Mama Mia!' effect

It appears Asda's loss fell on on single item -- the "Mama Mia" DVD. The DVD, which we are only now learning is a popular Christmas holiday item in the UK, sells for £2.66 less at Morrisons than at Asda. Therefore, were the DVD not included in the 33-item holiday trolley basket price comparison, Asda would have been the first-place winner over Morrisons.

Non-Abba and "Mama Mia" fans can take this to heart: If you want to purchase only 32 of the 33 items in the price comparison, then Asda is the place to go, as less the DVD consumers can save a few pence getting the other 32 items -- mostly food and drink -- at Asda.

The rumor is, upon reading the results of the holiday market basket survey, in which the only item standing in the way of a first place win for Asda was the Mama Mia DVD, the chain's (fictitious) director of holiday pricing was heard to shout -- "Mama Mia"...and he isn't even Italian. We wouldn't blame Asda if it cried "fowl."

Asda took first place in last year's holiday market basket survey conducted by The Grocer, followed by Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

There was no word if the "Mama Mia" DVD was included in the 33-item holiday price comparison last year.

Recessionary food and grocery retailing

The UK food and grocery retailing industry is currently going through a super-competitive period due to the serious recession in the country.

Consumers are flocking to discounters like the German-owned small-format, hard-discount chains Aldi and Lidl. Asda and Morrisons which both operate on a moderate-discount model are holding their owne respectively, and even gaining some market share at the expense mostly of Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Tesco, which has lost some share this year, and is by far the leading supermarket chain in the UK, has recently been fighting back by offering more discounted items in its stores, as well as introducing a new lower-everyday-priced store brand line a few months ago.

Waitrose, the UK's leading upmarket specialty supermarket chain, is hurting probably the most since even upper income British consumers are feeling the pinch from the recession and financial crisis.

Marks & Spencer, which like Waitrose is an upscale food and grocery retailer, and wasn't included in the holiday market basket price survey, also is hurting since its main customer base, which is essentially the same as Waitrose's, also is seeking out discount supermarkets and spending less money on more expensive specialty and premium products at the upmarket chain.

1 comment:

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