Supermarket Sweep, the game show that originated in America and then travelled across the Atlantic to become immortalised by the late Dale Winton, and then Rylan Clark-Neal, was all about teams stuffing their trolleys with as many items as they could.
The team with the products of the highest value won the chance to enter the final prize round, where they would dash down the aisles in a race against the clock.
Right now, the concept seems impossibly extravagant. Who could afford to just rush around their local store, grabbing whatever is in sight?
We’re more likely to be navigating the aisles at a snail’s pace as we carefully scrutinise products for the best value offers.
But against rising grocery prices, that’s become increasingly difficult.
Which? crunched the prices of more than 21,000 groceries across two years at eight major supermarkets, and found that food and drink inflation was 3.14% on average.
Out of the 20 categories in the analysis, fizzy drinks had the biggest price rises at 5.85% on average, followed by butters and spreads (4.9%), energy drinks (4.8%), and milk (4.6%).
The groceries with the lowest inflation included chocolate (1.4%), fresh fruit (1.6%), biscuits (1.8%) and vegetables (1.9%).
However, these shifts masked some of the more dramatic changes in some products.
Our research found some 265 groceries had price rises of more than 20%, including Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (up 21.4% at Tesco) and 250g of own-label closed cup mushrooms (up 21.4% at Asda).
And prices could keep climbing. Archie Norman, the chairman of Marks and Spencer, has warned food price inflation could reach 10% by the end of the year.
Increasing the shelf price is just one way for supermarkets to manage inflation – and it’s usually a last resort. ‘Shrinkflation’ – the practice of reducing product sizes but keeping the price the same – is one tactic supermarkets and manufacturers use to disguise rising prices.
Which? found that Walkers Classic Variety crisps went from 24 in a bag in a multipack to 22 in a bag at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons last autumn, but stayed the same price.
Inflation isn’t one-size fits all and your personal experience of rising prices will depend on what you buy as well as when and where you shop.
So you might be able to take control of your grocery bill by shopping around.
Which? produces a monthly guide on the cheapest supermarket, comparing a basket of everyday items, to show where you can find the best value.
You could also try switching to own-label products over big brands. Our research found own-label ranges had the lowest level of inflation at just 0.2% and Which? taste tests routinely find cheaper supermarket own-brands beat the big names – or testers simply can’t taste the difference.
But those who can make changes such as switching supermarkets or shifting down a range in own-label products are the lucky ones: there are many people who aren’t able to do so.
Which? believes supermarkets and manufacturers can do more.
Always providing clear pricing per unit, such as the cost per 100g or per 100ml, for example, would allow shoppers to compare the value for money they are getting on different pack sizes, ranges or brands and shop with greater confidence.
We also think supermarkets should ensure that budget ranges are readily available across their stores so consumers are not forced to pay over the odds for everyday items.
For more free money-saving tips and consumer rights advice, visit Which?.
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