Earlier this month Sainsbury’s followed competitor Tesco’s lead in launching its very own Aldi price match. Retail Week analyses how the two schemes compare.

In the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008, the discounters – and Aldi in particular – were able to really steal a march on the big four and break through in the UK grocery market. 

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to grind on and the UK again facing the prospect of a recession, it seems that Tesco and Sainsbury’s have learnt the lessons of a decade ago. 

The UK’s largest grocer Tesco was the first out of the gates with its Aldi price match, which it launched in March last year. Sainsbury’s followed suit earlier this month, announcing its scheme would match Aldi on “hundreds of items” with a particular focus on grocery. 

Sainsbury’s said its scheme was part of new chief executive Simon Roberts’ strategy of putting food back at the heart of everything the grocer does. 

Using data from Edge by Ascential, Retail Week has analysed the two schemes to see how they compare across fresh and ambient groceries, as well as in other categories such as beer, wine and spirits, and general merchandise. 

Food focus

The Edge by Ascential data shows that both Tesco and Sainsbury’s Aldi price match schemes are overwhelmingly focused on groceries. 

Tesco’s scheme currently covers at least 487 items, compared with Sainsbury’s 246. Of those items, Tesco’s price match is focused predominantly on grocery, with 81% of all price cuts made on items in this category. 

Sainsbury’s scheme, by comparison, has seen 83% of all price cuts made to grocery items. 

Other items such as beer, wine and spirits (BWS), general merchandise and health and beauty lines make up a relatively small percentage of discounted items by comparison. 

The next biggest matched category for Tesco was BWS, where around 8% of prices have been cut, 4% in homecare and 3.6% on health and beauty. 

Sainsbury’s also matched prices on 8% of lines in BWS, around 5% in beauty and around 2% in homecare

Battle of the brands

While both grocery giants have chosen to try and match Aldi on food, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have approached this end goal differently. 


Tesco has chosen to focus price matches on more branded products than Sainsbury’s, which has focused more heavily on discounting own-label items. 

The UK’s largest grocer has matched Aldi on price across 32% of its branded items, compared with just 17% for Sainsbury’s. 

With its focus more on pushing own-label products, the data also shows that Sainsbury’s has really focused on fresh meat and dairy products. 

This resonates with what the grocer said when it launched the scheme, saying it would focus predominantly on “customer favourites such as meat, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables, and dairy”.

Tesco meanwhile has focused more on branded snacking and confectionery items, and also looked to match Aldi on products such as coffee. Both Sainsbury’s and Tesco chose to match Aldi on cupboard staples Hovis and Warburtons bread.

Head to head

Edge by Ascential has also put together a table of 10 household staples taken from both Tesco and Sainsbury’s with the price match and compared them with 10 similar items found at the discounter. 

The data finds that in order to match Aldi on some of its prices, Sainsbury’s had to drop prices on 69% of the 246 matched items, with the average price drop across those items being 14%. Sainsbury’s had to apply heavier discounts to its own-brand items, where the average price drop was 15%, compared with just 3.6% on branded products. 

For its part, the discounter doesn’t seem overly perturbed by first Tesco and now Sainsbury’s directly targeting it on food prices.

“Shoppers know that the only place you can get Aldi prices is at Aldi

Spokeswoman, Aldi

An Aldi spokeswoman said: “Consumer group Which? recently found that Sainsbury’s was over 31% more expensive than Aldi. Shoppers know that the only place you can get Aldi prices is at Aldi.”

While the discounter remains confident, the data clearly shows that the UK’s two largest grocers have Aldi in their respective sights. As customers begin to feel the bite of the current recession deepen over the coming months, it could begin to tell at the tills.