In the week that investigative TV programme Panorama attempted to pick apart the big grocers’ promotional practices, industry data told a different story on supermarket prices and their effect.

In the week that investigative TV programme Panorama attempted to pick apart the big grocers’ promotional practices, industry data told a different story on supermarket prices and their effect.

While Panorama managed to find a few examples of alleged hoodwinking of consumers, BRC and Kantar stats showed the reality is that food groups are shouldering costs rather than passing the burden on to shoppers and that price competition is alive and well.

Yes, there is food price inflation. But it is coming down and, the BRC observed, a typical basket of goods bought in this country is 5% cheaper than the European average.

The supermarket price initiatives are one of the drivers behind the moderating inflation rate and the impact of such campaigns on business was evident in Tesco’s latest market share figure. It was down, and Tesco’s growth lagged the wider market. On the surface therefore, it may appear that initiatives such as the Big price Drop have failed to restore oomph.

The other way of looking at Tesco’s performance, however, is that it reflects the impact of price reductions – so called ‘self-imposed deflation’. The fact that shopper numbers are on the up at Tesco, and that its UK bounce-back is a work in progress, lends support to that view.

The impact of its renewed focus on price may well remain still to be fully felt by rivals, who have proved no slackers themselves on price, whether it be Sainsbury’s Brand Match or Asda’s Price Guarantee.

Grocery competition remains stiff. Despite Panorama’s take, the consumer is feeling the benefits.

Christmas spending

There’s anecdotal and welcome evidence that seasonal trading has started to improve in recent days. But the Christmas spending spree has tended to get later each year and no doubt that will be the case this time too.

Because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, there’s a full trading week beforehand for the first time since 2005.

That gives retailers a welcome run-up to the holiday, and the tills should ring.

However, it will also mean consumers may feel inclined to pack as much of their shopping as possible into the last few days in the hope of scooping up bargains.

In the end, the consumer will spend. The question is, how quickly will she snap her purse shut afterwards?