Low-income families miss out on budget ranges at smaller shops including Tesco & Sainsburys, says Which?

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A new study by Which? found that own-label products are available less than one percent of the time at big chains’ smaller stores including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons

Low-income families are missing out on the chance to save money by purchasing supermarkets’ lowest-priced essentials as fewer than one percent of leading retailers’ smaller stores stock them, a new study has revealed.

Consumer group Which? sent out mystery shoppers to Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons to get cut-price own-label ranges of around 30 items including apples, beef mince, tinned tomatoes, rice and instant coffee.

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On average, the biggest supermarket stores had 87 percent of the items that researchers were on the hunt for, or an equivalent product in the same price range.

But, in small Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local and Morrisons Daily convenience stores, the budget own-label items included on Which?’s list were available less than one percent of the time. Asda was not included in this part as they do not have many smaller stores.

Mystery shoppers from Which? visited 35 small stores from the three chains across the UK. They found that 30 of them did not have in stock any of the budget-range items on the list. The remaining five stores only stocked one item each from the list.

Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation lobby group, said: “We know that a great many people are really struggling at the moment, with food insecurity among children having doubled in the past year.

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“Low-income families simply can’t afford to travel to the larger supermarkets and are forced by their environments into using smaller stores. A Food Foundation survey in January found that 78% of lower-income households said they’d like retailers to make budget ranges available in every store.”

Sue Davies, head of food policy at Which?, added: “At a time when millions of people are struggling to put food on the table, it’s shocking that budget-range foods are not available to people who can’t get to a large supermarket.

“Which? is now calling on supermarket bosses to ensure budget ranges that support a healthy diet are available in convenience stores, especially in areas where people are struggling the most.”

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