Tesco has announced that its next Clubcard Boost - which swaps points collected within its reward scheme for vouchers worth double the value to spend in specific departments - will be its last. After the deal (which runs from 16 May to 26 June), Tesco will axe the promotion.
It has been informing Clubcard customers by post, and is trying to position the move as a revamping of the scheme, which will offer better value. The letter says it is responding to calls from customers who wanted the system to be 'simpler to understand and easier to use'.
It adds: "We want to make your Tesco Clubcard even better for you, and doing this means we'll be able to bring you great value from your vouchers the whole year round."
It only hints as to how it might be doing this, saying: "We're working on some more ways to help your points balance grow faster so you get more value back from Tesco Clubcard on your everyday shop."
The experts highlight that the Boost promotions are expensive for the store. When people spend their vouchers in store, they are crystallising the cost of running a reward scheme: when they offer double the value, they are doubling the cost. In an environment where supermarkets are battling on slim margins, this is a cost they feel they can no longer justify.
Given that other supermarkets have been slashing the generosity of their schemes, this should come as no surprise.
The 'refocusing' it refers to is in essence an emphasis on one of the key functions of any reward scheme - encouraging you to change your shopping habits. By running promotions for extra points on specific items or in particular departments, it can encourage you to select items that generate more profit, and tempt you into spending more.
Tesco is also likely to encourage people to spend their points with 'partners' instead - where they can be spent on anything from days out to restaurant meals and hotel stays, and can often get several times the value of the points.
This approach works well for Tesco. Although it has a financial arrangement with the partners, it takes less of a hit when more people use the points elsewhere.
Shoppers have taken to social media to express their disappointment. A number said that for the past few years they had been saving their points to spend on Christmas presents, and that having no Boost at Christmas would make a severe dent in their Christmas budget. One wrote on the Tesco Facebook page: "Why you couldn't have stopped last November, before people started saving for the following Christmas I don't know."
Many had chosen Tesco specifically for the points - including one woman who was saving so she could buy a PS4 at Christmas with her double points, and had been driving past other supermarkets in order to get to Tesco for her shopping. She added that she would shop closer to home from now on.
Another Facebook user commented: "We are absolutely disgusted to be informed that Tesco is to scrap the double up scheme and would like to say that we will never shop with you again."
But what do you think? Did you use Boost, and are you surprised it is being axed? Let us know in the comments.
Supermarket shopping mistakes
Tesco axes Clubcard Boost events - after one last promotion
The supermarkets invest in enormous shopping trolleys, and then put bulky special offers by the door - like packs of beer or enormous cereal boxes.
The idea is to tempt you into taking a big trolley, because tests have shown that it’s likely to make us buy more. Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed, found that by doubling the size of trolleys, customers would buy 19% more.
This is a disaster for a couple of reasons. The first is that you’ll end up buying things you don’t need - because you already have plenty in the fridge or the cupboard. You’d be surprised how many people come home with tomatoes every week, then throw out the ones that have gone rotten in the fridge. They'll do this every single week without ever spotting that they don’t eat as many tomatoes as they think they do.
The other problem is that you’ll end up forgetting things, and have to go back to the store, which will leave you susceptible to the next common mistake.
Apparently we’re giving up the weekly grocery shop in favour of a number of trips to different stores to pick up bargains.
If you do this right, it can be a great way to save. However, if you don’t plan it properly, you’re just giving yourself more opportunities to buy on impulse.
In the book ‘America’s Cheapest Family’ the authors claim that more than 50% of what we buy in store is on impulse. The authors actually only go to the supermarket once a month to cut back on impulse purchases.
If you browse at eye-level using your peripheral vision, that’s where you’ll find the expensive brands.
Look around at the top and bottom of the shelves for the own-brand versions or the cheaper brands - and try out the cheaper versions of your usual shopping.
Aside from Christmas, stores will play quiet and relaxing music, with a slow tempo. This is designed to make you shop more slowly, and take the time to spot the impulse buys.
If you put headphones on and play something with a faster tempo (it doesn't have to be any particular type of music), then you’ll pick up the tempo, and studies have shown you’ll buy around 29% less.
On the one hand, if you do the maths, you might find that buying a larger pack means that each packet of crisps or can of coke costs less. However, Vestcom, a retail services company, has found that when we buy bigger packets, we consume more.
It means that when you’re buying things like toilet rolls and washing powder, straightforward maths will tell you the cheapest size to buy. When it comes to crisps and drinks, consider carefully whether you will just end up eating and drinking more.
Sometimes that big red sticker is a great discount on something you need: usually its not.
Don’t let special offers tempt you into buying things you don’t need, and don't assume that anything with a big red sticker is a bargain. It’s worth taking your receipt from your previous shop with you when you go shopping, so you can easily compare whether the new price is a good discount or not.
The end of the aisle gets more of our attention, because it's where we need to turn the trolley, so we’re going slower.
However, this isn’t always where the stores put the incredible bargains. They often sell these positions to companies trying to promote a particular product. When the company has the budget to spend on this sort of promotion, it means they may not necessarily be the cheapest option.
If your cheese has been grated, your salad washed, or your carrots chopped, then you’ll pay the price for it.
Not only will you pay significantly more for your shopping, but in many cases you'll get an inferior product too. Grated cheese has additives to stop it sticking, for example, while bagged salad will go brown significantly faster than a head of lettuce.
Frozen food is often far cheaper, so people assume it’s likely to be inferior. However, the fresh fish at the counter has often been frozen, so you’re gaining nothing for paying more here - in fact you're losing out because you have to use it up more quickly.
The other things that are well worth considering are frozen vegetables. These are much cheaper than fresh vegetables, and are often frozen at the peak of their freshness, so are better for you too.