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Aldi has narrowly beaten its main rival Lidl to be named the cheapest supermarket of the year, according to an annual survey.

The German discount retailer was the cheapest supermarket for six of the last 12 months, according to the annual survey from the consumer advice firm Which?.

But while Aldi topped the list, it was generally bad news for shoppers, particularly in Waitrose, when it came to annual price rises.

According to the consumer group, prices on selected staple items at the British supermarket rose by 9 per cent from January to December.

Prices on the same items rose by around 3.4 per cent across all supermarkets last year, with higher than average rises at both Lidl and Aldi.

It comes as figures today showed the rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in Britain has increased by more than expected to 5.4 per cent – its highest rate in 30 years, official data revealed today.

However, in an upbeat summary of the UK economy, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate fell to 4.1 per cent between September and November.

Aldi (pictured left) was the cheapest supermarket for six of the last 12 months while Lidl (pictured right) was the cheapest for five, including December 2021, according to the annual survey from the consumer advice firm Which?

Aldi (pictured left) was the cheapest supermarket for six of the last 12 months while Lidl (pictured right) was the cheapest for five, including December 2021, according to the annual survey from the consumer advice firm Which?

Aldi (pictured left) was the cheapest supermarket for six of the last 12 months while Lidl (pictured right) was the cheapest for five, including December 2021, according to the annual survey from the consumer advice firm Which?

How much grocery prices are rising, according to the consumer group Which?
Supermarket                          Grocery basket price rise Jan – Dec 2021 (%)
Sainsbury’s                         0.59%
Tesco                          0.89% 
Ocado                          1.62%
Morrisons                          2.50% 
Asda                          2.89% 
Aldi                          4.32% 
Lidl                          5.13% 
Waitrose                          9.20% 
AVERAGE                          3.4% 

While Aldi topped the cheapest supermarket charts for six months of last year, German rival Lidl was the cheapest for five, including crucially for Christmas shoppers, last December.

The two discount supermarket chains were tied last January, with a basket of 19 items coming in at £18.45 at both discounters. 

Which? also tracked hundreds of thousands of grocery prices across the UK’s eight big supermarkets, finding that they were charging up to 9 per cent more in December than they did last January.

The top five items in terms of price rises from January and December

According to Which? the items to see the highest price rises from January to December last year are:

Royal Gala apples +14%

Free-range eggs +12%

Brown onions +11%

Fresh skimmed milk +10%

Fresh semi-skimmed milk +9%

 

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Prices rose by an average 3.4 per cent for a trolley of 19 items over the last year.

Waitrose prices increased the most – by 9.2 per cent – and Sainsbury’s the least, at 0.59 per cent, according to the analysis by Which?. 

Some own-brand grocery items rose more in price than others across all eight supermarkets, including Royal Gala apples (up 14 per cent), free-range eggs (up 12 per cent), brown onions (up 11 per cent), skimmed milk (up 10 per cent) and semi-skimmed milk (up 9 per cent).

Lidl, which was the cheapest supermarket in 2020, offered the best deal for shoppers in December, at £23.29 for a basket of 22 groceries compared with £23.64 at Aldi.

Waitrose was more than £9, or 41 per cent, more expensive than Lidl, at £32.85. 

Waitrose was also consistently the most expensive supermarket across the 12 months, with a basket of everyday items costing from £6 to over £10 more per month than the cheapest alternative, Which? found.

The shopping list combined branded items such as Kenco coffee, Oxo stock cubes and PG Tips tea bags with own-label products including onions and milk, selected to ensure they were as comparable as possible across the retailers on factors such as weight and quality.

Which? also compared a larger trolley containing a greater selection of items not always available at Aldi and Lidl, such as Cathedral City cheddar cheese and Kenco coffee, finding that Asda was the cheapest of the traditional supermarkets at £135.07 – £18.30 cheaper than the most expensive, Waitrose.

Waitrose was also the most expensive for the larger trolley every month except one in 2021.

Which? retail editor Ele Clark said: ‘No one wants to overpay for basic groceries, especially when a cost-of-living crunch is putting extra pressure on household budgets.

‘Our findings show that while prices are going up, some supermarkets are passing their rising costs on to shoppers more than others. 

‘As well as choosing a supermarket that is cheap overall, other ways to save include swapping from branded to own-brand products, sticking to a shopping list and resisting the temptation to pick up special offers you don’t need.’

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, said: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to be named the Cheapest Supermarket of the Year.  

Waitrose was more than £9, or 41 per cent, more expensive than Lidl, at £32.82. Lidl, which was the cheapest supermarket in 2020, offered the best deal for shoppers in December, at £23.29 for a basket of 22 groceries compared with £23.64 at Aldi

Waitrose was more than £9, or 41 per cent, more expensive than Lidl, at £32.82. Lidl, which was the cheapest supermarket in 2020, offered the best deal for shoppers in December, at £23.29 for a basket of 22 groceries compared with £23.64 at Aldi

Waitrose was more than £9, or 41 per cent, more expensive than Lidl, at £32.82. Lidl, which was the cheapest supermarket in 2020, offered the best deal for shoppers in December, at £23.29 for a basket of 22 groceries compared with £23.64 at Aldi

‘We are committed to ensuring that our customers have access to the highest quality products at the best possible prices.

Aldi opens its first checkout-free store where shoppers will be followed by cameras as they shop – and facial age assurance technology used to authorise alcohol purchases – before they leave without queuing to pay 

Aldi has opened its first checkout-free store, where shoppers will be able to pick up products and leave without queuing to pay.

The discount supermarket’s new site in Greenwich, south-east London, which opened at 7am this morning ‘for public testing’, will also allow customers to buy alcohol, using facial age estimation technology to check whether they appear to be over the age of 25.

The move follows in the footsteps of rivals Amazon and Tesco, who have both opened checkout-free stores.

Special cameras will monitor customers as the make their way around the store

Special cameras will monitor customers as the make their way around the store

Special cameras will monitor customers as the make their way around the store 

Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service on Tuesday. Customers scan an app to enter the store

Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service on Tuesday. Customers scan an app to enter the store

Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service on Tuesday. Customers scan an app to enter the store

A series of cameras installed in the ceiling follow customers as they do their shopping, and then bill them when they leave.

Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service on Tuesday.

The aim is to end long queues in stores and could lead to more sites opening.

Customers must register with Aldi’s Shop&Go app, which will allow them to enter the store, pick up their items, and then walk out.

Aldi said customers wishing to purchase alcohol will be able to use facial age estimation technology to authorise their purchase.

The technology, provided by Yoti, enables customers to confirm their identity via the app. Anyone who opts out will be age-verified in store.

Aldi UK and Ireland chief executive Giles Hurley said: ‘Today is the culmination of months of work, not least from the team here in Greenwich, and I’m looking forward to seeing how customers react to our trial.

‘This store utilises the very latest in retail technology.’  

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‘This is a commitment to our customers that is set in stone and we’re proud that it has been recognised by Which?, supporting shoppers at a time when the cost of living is rising.’

A Waitrose spokesman said: ‘We’re working hard to deliver great value, offering ethically sourced, great-quality products at fair prices along with excellent service from our partners.’

It comes as the rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in Britain has increased by more than expected to 5.4 per cent – its highest rate in 30 years, official data revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said December’s figure was up from 5.1 per cent in November, and is the highest since 1992 as the cost of living squeeze continues.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that the rate would get to 5.2 per cent in December – so the official reading was 0.2 percentage points above estimates.

Household finances are under pressure as gas and electricity tariffs have also seen major rises and supply chain problems are pushing up costs across the economy. 

The ONS said the price of goods produced by UK factories was up 9.3 per cent in the year to December – slightly down from the 9.4 per cent rise in the year to November.

And the price of materials and fuels used by manufacturers rose 13.5 per cent in the year to December, down from the 15.2 per cent growth in the year to November.

But while inflation is on the rise, it was today revealed Britain is enjoying a ‘jobs miracle’ that has pushed national unemployment down to within a whisker of its pre-pandemic level.

In another upbeat summary of the UK economy, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate fell to 4.1 per cent between September and November.

That left unemployment just a fraction above the 4 per cent seen before Covid hit, well below the current 7.2 per cent seen in the eurozone and a far cry from doom-laden forecasts of 9 per cent as the coronavirus crisis erupted.

In a further boost, companies took on a record 184,000 staff in December and vacancy numbers stand at an all-time high of 1.25million.

The figures came just days after a separate ONS report showed economic output exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the first time in November.

Economists hailed an ’employment miracle’ while Tory MPs praised Boris Johnson for his handling of the crisis.

The health of the jobs market is largely down to the furlough scheme, which supported millions when they could not work and prevented a wave of mass redundancies.

But the better-than-expected jobs figures also vindicated the Prime Minister’s plan to keep the economy open over Christmas.

Labour frontbenchers had been pushing for renewed restrictions to deal with the newly-discovered Omicron variant despite warnings that this could cause a fresh surge of redundancies.

Left-wing critics also warned that the end of furlough in September would lead to a sharp rise in unemployment.

But under Mr Johnson’s plan, Britain’s rebound was ‘barely blown off course’ by Omicron, economists say. 

The UK’s recovery is now pulling away from many of its European rivals. Britain’s jobless rate is well below the eurozone average while France, Italy and Spain all have figures significantly higher.

Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said last night Mr Johnson ‘made the right decision before Christmas not to lock down’, adding: ‘He knew that work matters, particularly to the poorest in the land, and keeping the economy moving is vital. Work is the best way to lift you out of poverty.

‘The figures today show that compared to most other countries, we in the UK have a jobs miracle taking place.’

Euler Hermes, which provides insurance for global trade deals, predicted that the UK economy would grow by 4.4 per cent this year, outpacing both the EU and the US. 

Its economist Ana Boata said trade would be boosted by the lifting of Covid restrictions.

The Office for National Statistics said the jobless rate fell to 4.1% between September and November, leaving unemployment just a fraction above the 4% seen before Covid hit

The Office for National Statistics said the jobless rate fell to 4.1% between September and November, leaving unemployment just a fraction above the 4% seen before Covid hit

The Office for National Statistics said the jobless rate fell to 4.1% between September and November, leaving unemployment just a fraction above the 4% seen before Covid hit

UK employers added a record 184,000 jobs to the economy in December, undeterred by the end of the furlough scheme.

There are now a total of 29.5million employees on companies’ books – some 409,000 more than before the pandemic.

The numbers were boosted by hiring in accommodation and food services businesses, as pubs and hotels pulled in more staff to prepare for Christmas. And there was little sign of a slump on the horizon. 

Job vacancies hit yet a record high of 1.25million between October and December, as companies struggled to find staff. 

Demand was particularly high in health and social work, where vacancies hit a new high of 206,000.

Jack Kennedy, UK economist at job site Indeed, said: ‘The Omicron storm finally broke in December, but the booming jobs market was barely blown off course.’

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at research consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the UK was ‘in the midst of an employment miracle’.

UK employers added a record 184,000 jobs to the economy in December, undeterred by the end of the furlough scheme. Pictured: Waitress at Manchester's Home Sweet Home restaurant

UK employers added a record 184,000 jobs to the economy in December, undeterred by the end of the furlough scheme. Pictured: Waitress at Manchester's Home Sweet Home restaurant

UK employers added a record 184,000 jobs to the economy in December, undeterred by the end of the furlough scheme. Pictured: Waitress at Manchester’s Home Sweet Home restaurant

Economists hailed an 'employment miracle' while Tory MPs praised Boris Johnson (pictured) for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis

Economists hailed an 'employment miracle' while Tory MPs praised Boris Johnson (pictured) for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis

Economists hailed an ’employment miracle’ while Tory MPs praised Boris Johnson (pictured) for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis

He pointed out that employment was on the rise, and redundancies in the three months to November were the lowest since 1995.

Mr Tombs added: ‘That’s astonishing, given that the furlough scheme was wound down at the end of September, with 646,000 staff fully furloughed and a further 505,000 furloughed for some hours on the final day of the scheme.’

Labour criticised the Government for withdrawing the £70billion scheme at the end of September, branding Mr Johnson ‘cruel’.

But the wave of predicted redundancies never materialised.

Danni Hewson of investment platform AJ Bell, said: ‘Furlough was seen as the cotton wool that cushioned the UK’s jobs market from the ravages of Covid.

‘The end of the scheme filled many with dread, and a fear that those still being protected would find themselves out of work sending unemployment levels soaring.

‘The reality is an intriguing picture with a record level of job vacancies, the number of employees more than 400,000 above that pre-pandemic and the redundancy rate at a record low.’ 

Inflation soars to 30-YEAR high of 5.4% with worse to come for desperate families as Boris and Rishi face mounting pressure to curb energy bills – and Bank of England could hike rates again

By Mark Duell for MailOnline

The rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in Britain has increased by more than expected to 5.4 per cent – its highest rate in 30 years, official data revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said December’s figure was up from 5.1 per cent in November, and is the highest since 1992 as the cost of living squeeze continues.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that the rate would get to 5.2 per cent in December – so the official reading was 0.2 percentage points above estimates.

Household finances are under pressure as gas and electricity tariffs have also seen major rises and supply chain problems are pushing up costs across the economy. 

The ONS said the price of goods produced by UK factories was up 9.3 per cent in the year to December – slightly down from the 9.4 per cent rise in the year to November.

And the price of materials and fuels used by manufacturers rose 13.5 per cent in the year to December, down from the 15.2 per cent growth in the year to November.

It comes after separate data yesterday revealed that wage growth was outstripped by inflation in November 2021 in more than a year – for the first time since July 2020. 

An ONS graph of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH), the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the owner occupiers' housing costs (OOH) component

An ONS graph of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH), the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the owner occupiers' housing costs (OOH) component

An ONS graph of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH), the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the owner occupiers’ housing costs (OOH) component

The inflation rate adds pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates again next month

The inflation rate adds pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates again next month

The inflation rate adds pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates again next month

The inflation rise reflected a range of goods and services, with the biggest impact from food and drink, followed by restaurants, hotels, furniture and household goods.

The 5.4 per cent figure was the highest since March 1992, when it was at 7.1 per cent. It adds pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates again next month. 

The Bank last month became the world’s first major central bank to raise interest rates since the start of the pandemic, from 0.1 per cent to 0.25 per cent.

The move, which was an attempt to try to cool the rampant inflation rate, came a day after data showed CPI had unexpectedly surged to a 10-year high in November. 

Inflation is also turning into a political problem for Boris Johnson, who is facing calls to offset an expected 50 per cent rise in regulated household energy prices in April.

Th ONS data showed that December’s increase reflected rising food prices and the higher cost of clothing and furniture. This graph shows contributions to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate

Th ONS data showed that December’s increase reflected rising food prices and the higher cost of clothing and furniture. This graph shows contributions to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate

Th ONS data showed that December’s increase reflected rising food prices and the higher cost of clothing and furniture. This graph shows contributions to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate

Food and drink made the largest contribution to the change in the CPIH annual inflation rate

Food and drink made the largest contribution to the change in the CPIH annual inflation rate

Food and drink made the largest contribution to the change in the CPIH annual inflation rate

Black Wednesday and 15% interest rates: What happened in 1992? 

The Consumer Prices Index rate was at 5.4 per cent in December 2021 – the highest level since March 1992, when it stood at 7.1 per cent.

This period followed the UK recession of 1991 which was caused by a toxic combination of high interest rates, plunging house prices and an overvalued exchange rate.

Chancellor Norman Lamont speaks about Britain leaving the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992

Chancellor Norman Lamont speaks about Britain leaving the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992

Chancellor Norman Lamont speaks about Britain leaving the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992

The most famous point was Black Wednesday on September 16, 1992, when the UK left the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and the pound devalued by a whopping 20 per cent – showing how much it was overvalued.

The period followed the economic boom in the late 1980s which saw big economic growth, a rapid increase in house prices and rising inflation amid a time of high consumer confidence.

The Government increased interest rates to as high as 15 per cent in September 1996

The Government increased interest rates to as high as 15 per cent in September 1996

The Government increased interest rates to as high as 15 per cent in September 1996

The Government joined the ERM in 1990 with the intention of getting inflation back under control, but the economy then began to slow down and it became difficult to keep the pound at its exchange rate target against the Deutsche Mark.

To keep the value up, the Government used foreign currency reserves to buy sterling and increase interest rates to as high as 15 per cent – but this was unsustainable and it had to leave the EMR and devalue the currency.

There was a fall in house prices because many people could not afford soaring mortgage payments, which also then reduced household wealth and consumer confidence plunged.

Unemployment rose to over 10 per cent in 1992, while house prices were falling at a rate of 10 per cent in 1990 as home repossession rates went up.

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Responding to the rise in CPI inflation, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said today: ‘I understand the pressures people are facing with the cost of living and we will continue to listen to people’s concerns as we have done throughout the pandemic.

‘We’re providing support worth around £12billion this financial year and next to help families with the cost of living.

‘We’re cutting the Universal Credit taper to make sure work pays, freezing alcohol and fuel duties to keep costs down, and providing targeted support to help households with their energy bills.’ 

The Bank forecasts CPI will peak at a 30-year high of around 6 per cent in April due to the higher energy bills, and that it will take more than two years for CPI to return to its 2 per cent target.

Financial markets see a high chance that the Bank of England will raise rates again on February 3 and announce that it will allow its £875billion stock of government bonds to fall as the gilts begin to mature. 

Armed Forces minister James Heappey said the Government is looking at what more can be done to help households with the cost of living crisis.

He told BBC Breakfast that the rise in inflation was ‘a cause for real concern’, adding: ‘The Government is looking at what more could and should be done.

‘I don’t know that viewers are necessarily learning anything new this morning because they would have seen the cost of their bills increasing over the course of the last few months.

‘But it is a headline that reminds all of us in Government that there are millions of people out there who are concerned about their ability to heat their home, feed their families.

‘That’s why the Chancellor and the Business Secretary and the Prime Minister are looking at what the Government could and should be doing to help them.’

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that there is a ‘triple whammy’ facing families. 

He said: ‘You’ve got real wages and incomes, even for pensioners, falling because of inflation. You’ve got substantial tax rises. You’ve got huge rises in energy bills.

‘It is our job to hold the Government to account and that it exactly what we’re doing, and we’re laying out serious costed alternative positions to take that would make a real difference to people’s incomes.

‘Again, I think that is in a very positive contrast to a Government which doesn’t seem to be able to do anything other than try and defend itself.

Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS, said today: ‘The inflation rate rose again at the end of the year and has not been higher for almost 30 years.

‘Food prices again grew strongly while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation.

‘These large rises were slightly offset by petrol prices, which despite being at record levels were stable this month, but rose this time last year.

‘The closures in the economy last year have impacted some items but, overall, this effect on the headline rate of inflation is negligible.’

Today’s figures showed that core CPI – which excludes sometimes-volatile food, energy, alcohol and tobacco prices – rose to a record high 4.2 per cent in December from November’s 3.9 per cent.

Retail price inflation – an older measure that the ONS says is no longer accurate, but which is still widely used by government and businesses – rose to 7.5 per cent in December from a 30-year high of 7.1 per cent in November. 

And the British Chambers of Commerce warned today that inflation will continue to soar in the coming months and could surpass the 6 per cent mark by April.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, said this morning: ‘Higher inflation is adding to the unprecedented surge in costs facing businesses. 

‘The cumulative effect of soaring energy bills, increasing input costs and a looming National Insurance hike means that firms are under mounting pressure to continue raising prices.

The data also revealed an unseasonal increase of 0.7 per cent for clothing and footwear prices

The data also revealed an unseasonal increase of 0.7 per cent for clothing and footwear prices

The data also revealed an unseasonal increase of 0.7 per cent for clothing and footwear prices

The contribution of housing and household services' to the CPIH was at its highest since 2009

The contribution of housing and household services' to the CPIH was at its highest since 2009

The contribution of housing and household services’ to the CPIH was at its highest since 2009

‘Inflation will continue to soar in the coming months as surging energy prices, rising raw material costs and the reversal of the VAT reductions for hospitality push it well above 6 per cent by April.’

She added that the surging inflation means a February interest rate rise ‘may be inevitable’, but ‘raising rates too aggressively risks undermining confidence and will do little to dampen the global factors driving this current inflationary spike’.

The ONS said food and drink prices lifted by 4.2 per cent year on year in December, which is the biggest rise since September 2013.

Clothes shops also put up prices by an average 4.2 per cent.

Boris Johnson during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in North London yesterday

Boris Johnson during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in North London yesterday

Boris Johnson during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in North London yesterday

But the biggest hit to consumer pockets continues to be the rises in energy bills after an October increase to the price cap, with experts warning over a leap of more than 50 per cent in these costs when the next revision is due in April.

Meanwhile, motorists have also faced painful fuel price rises, and the ONS said average petrol prices remained at a record high of 145.8 pence a litre last month, compared with 114.1 pence a litre a year earlier.

Rising used car prices have been another factor in pushing up CPI since the beginning of 2020, according to the ONS.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured last October, said he 'understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured last October, said he 'understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured last October, said he ‘understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living’

The figures showed that CPIH, which includes owner-occupiers’ housing costs and is the ONS’s preferred measure of inflation, was 4.8 per cent in December compared with 4.6 per cent in November and the highest since September 2008.

Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said December’s inflation figures leave the Bank of England with ‘little choice but to hike rates again in February’.

He said CPI is likely to peak ‘slightly above’ 6 per cent in April.

‘Nonetheless, we continue to expect CPI inflation to fall back swiftly after April and ultimately to undershoot the (Bank’s) 2 per cent target in 2023,’ he added.

Source: Daily Mail

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