Why is Waitrose so expensive?

You only have to mention shopping at Waitrose to a great deal of people, and the reaction is – ‘gosh, they are expensive’. Unfortunately, this is quite true, as on price point, they can be more expensive than the likes of their main competitors such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons, without even considering the discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl.

Is it the strength around the John Lewis name or simply misguided pride in shopping at Waitrose having kudos as a superior supermarket to be seen in? They are undoubtedly more expensive in a lot of instances, and even Marks & Spencer have dropped their food prices in comparable foods. But you do have excellent customer service and knowledgeable staff at checkout and virtually a ‘no quibble’ money back policy. It depends if your wallet can cope.

Waitrose have shut quite a few branches since 2014, rating them as unviable in certain areas, but they have increased their number of ‘Little Waitrose’ outlets to make their food more obtainable. Rising costs and devaluation of the pound has caused Waitrose to rethink their philosophy, but the supermarket name is still linked with quality. If you are watching your pocket, this may not be the choice for you as opposed to other chains and discount outlets.

Advantages of Waitrose Shopping

The advantages certainly do not revolve around price, although the introduction of their ‘Essentials Range’ certainly increased their market share. It is about quality, customer service and the strength of the John Lewis Partnership. In the last decade, they have also increased their offers considerably with 2 for 1 and buy 3 for £10, an avenue that they once stated they would never go down. The 3 for £10 is certainly worthwhile, particularly on items such as barbecue food.

You can of course join their free ‘partnership’ loyalty system, but the rewards are not generally as good as Tesco for instance. You do receive special offers, which can amount to 20% discount on your favourite foodstuffs, but that’s where it stops – no loyalty points that can be converted into cash rewards. Making big savings at Waitrose is somewhat spasmodic to say the least. On the spot in store is better than relying on vouchers.

But you can rely on the quality of products and the selection of organic, gluten free and other options for those that cannot eat everything. Another visible scenario is a Waitrose LARGE chicken at £6.00 is almost twice the size of that in Tesco at £4.50, and far, far tastier. A family of 4 could have a very satisfying Sunday roast and still have some left to make a simple meal such as a soup the next day, so there are good deals to be had if you think a bit further ahead.

Online shopping is easy and comprehensive as is their payment system – they take all credit cards, bank cards etc. and even have systems like Apple Pay available on iPhones. Again, time saving is made if you use the self-checkout system with the handheld sets to count your shopping as you go – useful if on a budget. You can also buy Waitrose products online with the Ocado service. Ocado offer a huge amount of Waitrose goods as well as many other manufacturers and suppliers, but this will stop when Ocado pair up with M & S in 2020/21

Disadvantages of Waitrose shopping

The main, and more or less only, disadvantage is price. All the other services are there, but the price can be a stumbling block for families on a budget or with a lot of family members. The Essentials range is not comprehensive either, so youwould not necessarily be able to cut your weekly shopping bill down by buying only this product selection.

Waitrose do have meal deals for 2, but according to surveys, there is the opinion that these are quite meagre, particularly if you want a larger meal or you are a rugby player! In the style of a takeaway however, choice of dishes is good and at £10 for two people, variety is good as well. The same applies to the Indian takeaways – if you bought something similar in a relevant outlet for collection, you would not have the variety that is included in the price. There does seem to be some criticism of taste though as being bland or non-authentic – Waitrose own customer product reviews state this.

So, would you choose Waitrose for quality and to hell with the price? The jury is out for now.

Price comparison

4 Pork Loin Steaks £3.70 £1.89 £2.80 £2.20
4 Jacket Potatoes £1.00 0.70p 0.70p 0.70p
BBQ Sauce £2.05 (480ml) 0.79p £1.20 (500ml) £1.00 (460ml)
Baked beans 0.35p (400g) 0.23p (420g) 0.25p (400g) 0.23p (400g)
Mushrooms £1.00 (300g) 0.85p (350g) 0.95p (300g) £1.00 (400g)

*These are based on fresh mushrooms with a shelf life of 4 days+. Please note variations in weight for accurate comparison.

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