The 'Express' 'Metro' or 'Local' versions of supermarkets are charging far more for exactly the same products as the larger outlets. Overall prices are around 10% higher, and in some cases products are priced at 40% more than the traditional supermarkets
But why is this, and which supermarkets have the biggest differences in prices?
Worst offendersRetail consultancy, Him! was investigating the difference in prices between the different supermarket brands, and the attitudes of customers, in a survey of 20,000 people.
It told AOL that a sample basket at Waitrose was 7.8% more expensive at smaller stores. Meanwhile a basket at Sainsbury's Local cost 10.2% more than a larger store nearby, and at Tesco Express cost 11.2% more. The most striking example in the study was an orange which cost 40% more at a Tesco Express than a nearby larger store.
Why?The stores themselves argue that they have to charge more because it costs them comparatively more to run these sorts of shops. It means the overheads are a larger percentage of the money they take, so they have to make a bigger profit on everything they sell.
Katie Littler of Him! told The Grocer magazine that: "There are no excuses because shoppers don't care about a store owner's increased costs." She added: "Shoppers are increasingly expecting prices in convenience to match supermarkets, meaning they will be tougher judges of convenience stores."
ReactionIt seems that they are voting with their feet. In 2012 Him! found that we visit these smaller stores 3.7 times a week. In 2013 so far it has been closer to 3.6 times. And although we are spending more on each trip, we have the same number of items in our baskets, which is an indication that any extra we spend on a trip is due to increased prices rather than anything else.
It seems, therefore, that we are more willing to make a longer trip to a bigger store in between the weekly shops in order to get better value.
However, while we are using them less, convenience stores are still commanding a huge share of our spending. Him! says that 56% of the population still use convenience stores. According to IDG, the convenience supermarket brands are worth £5.6 billion a year - and now make up slightly more of the grocery market than traditional convenience stores.
The consultancy says that despite a drive for value, longer working hours and smaller households are behind a trend towards picking things up as and when we need them - rather than doing a big shop that we struggle to store, and then throw away because we end up working late and grabbing a take-away instead.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.