Major wine brands at Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda are put on sale at artificially high prices so they could be reduced to appear a bargain, critics claim.
Supermarkets have been accused of conning customers on wine promotions by ramping up the price artificially then claiming to sell the bottles at half the price.
Nine out of ten bottles of wine drunk in the UK come from major supermarkets, and 60% of those are on offer. But a new investigation has revealed that shoppers may not be getting the bargain they think that they are.
Tracking the prices of major wine brands over a year, mySupermarket.co.uk discovered a zig-zag pattern at major stores including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.
The price of the wine was “established” at what critics claim are artificially high levels and then cut to give the impression of a deal.
On some occasions the “half price wine” cost more than shoppers were being charged just months earlier, the investigation for the Guardian found.
Wine writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke, who carried out a similar investigation for the BBC's watchdog, has claimed that some of the wine on sale is not worth what customers are paying for it when it is half price. He said:
"The truth is that the only way to make a profit out of these wines they sell so many bottles of is if the wine was never worth more than £5 in the first place".There is no suggestion the supermarkets are breaking any laws on price promotions, which state that a product has to be on sale at the full price for a certain period before it can be marketed are reduced.
Former director of wine at Sainsbury’s Allan Cheeseman, who has left the supermarket and works as an industry consultant, said that some of the offers at major stores were “blatantly manufactured”, adding: “The problem is that as a nation we have become promotion junkies."
A spokesperson for Asda said that they would never deliberately mislead their customers, adding: “As Britain's lowest price supermarket our simple aim is always to offer the lowest prices for the longest."
Tesco issued a statement saying:
"As the UK's largest seller of wine, we take our responsibility to our customers very seriously. Customers have repeatedly told us they really enjoy the variety and great value our wine selection offers and both the Ogio and Hardy’s wines are extremely popular. We realise that not every wine will be to the particular taste of every customer, but our half price wine offers remain popular, indicating customers are satisfied with both the quality and value for money."Sainsbury’s said that wine prices were dependant on a number of factors and they tried their best to mitigate these changes. The research did not cover Morrisons or Aldi.
Ted Sandbach, founder of independent wine distributor the Oxford Wine Company, said that while some people may see the promotions as clever marketing he saw it as "downright cheating".
Caveat Emptor. This practice is cheating customers and certain supermarkets ought be be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.