Tesco and Sainsbury's accused of 'dodgy tactics' by raising prices before setting loyalty card deals

Tesco Clubcard shoppers

Tesco Clubcard deals might not be as good as they appear

Sarra Gray

By Sarra Gray

Published: 15/09/2023

- 13:18

Updated: 11/10/2023

- 15:39

Supermarket discounts may not be as good as they appear, research suggested

Loyalty card deals at supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's might not be as good as they appear.

This is according to research that claims the supermarkets will increase prices before offering discounts.

Which? suggested supermarkets are using "potentially dodgy tactics" when implementing loyalty card deals.

Shoppers in supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's can get items for cheaper when they swipe their club cards.

Nectar card

Nectar cards give shoppers offers in Sainsbury's


​Many supermarkets have cut the price of food in stores.

The research looked at the prices of such items in Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury's Nectar price deals.

It seemed to find prices had sometimes been put up in the months before to make the loyalty card price seem like a discount.

It looked at 141 Clubcard and Nectar Price promotions and tracked their pricing history for the six months prior.

It found Tesco products were only at their "regular price" for 24 per cent of the time in the months before the Clubcard deal.

Products in Sainsbury's were only at their regular price for 34 per cent of the time.


Nescafe Gold Blend (200g) at Sainsbury's - Nectar price £6, regular price £8.10.

Which? claimed it was only that that price for two days before being reduced.

Cadbury Dairy Milk (four x 33.5g bars) at Sainsbury's - Nectar price £1.50, regular price £1.65

The regular price was increased just one month before.


Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli Sauce (380g) at Tesco - Clubcard price £2, regular price £2.70

Which? claimed it was only at its "regular price" for eight days before the promotion.

Heinz Salad Cream (605g) at Tesco - Clubcard price £3.50, regular price £3.90

The regular price was increased 22 days before the promotion.

Tesco Clubcard

The research suggests prices are raised just days before the deals are introduced


Both supermarkets denied they had been using "dodgy" pricing and denied any wrongdoings.

A Tesco spokesperson said: 'We know that having low prices on the products we sell is really important to our customers right now, which is why we have more than 8,000 weekly deals on Clubcard Prices, offering customers potential savings of up to £351 a year – all while collecting Clubcard points that can be put towards groceries and fuel, or doubled in value with our Reward Partners.

"All our Clubcard Price promotions follow strict rules, including considering how they compare against prices in the market, to ensure they represent genuine value and savings for our Clubcard members. These rules have been endorsed by our Trading Standards Primary Authority.

"As Which? reported recently, Tesco was the cheapest of all the major supermarkets when a Clubcard was used – and was extremely competitive when compared with the limited range discounters."

A Sainsbury's spokesperson added: "Nectar Prices offer our customers the opportunity to make genuine savings across 5,000 products.

"Which? fails to recognise that base prices have been increasing throughout the year due to inflation. Our promotional rules around Nectar Prices are informed by the guidance from Trading Standards.

"The Nescafe Gold example demonstrates Which?'s flawed methodology as the claim that the 'regular' price was £6 is untrue.

"The base price of this item has been £8.10 since December 2022 and £6 was a promotional price throughout this year, including on Nectar Prices when it launched in April."

This comes as Sainsbury's has updated a household staple in its stores.

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