The biggest names in retail, apart from Asda, have revealed how they did in the critical run up to Christmas. So, how did they do?
It is a vital time of year for our biggest retailers, who are also some of our biggest employers.
Food labelling will be made consistent across all supermarkets, it will be announced today.
– Which? spokeswoman
Own-brand products can provide good value and several have topped our tests to become best buys.
But retailers should make sure that people are under no illusions about what they are buying and not leave so many consumers feeling that they have been misled.
Own-label products, which tend to be cheaper than brands, are becoming more popular among consumers struggling with tightened finances and rising food prices, according to Which.
Its survey on own-brand packaging found
- 18% of members had deliberately bought an own-label product because it resembled the branded equivalent.
- 60% of these shoppers doing so because it was cheaper and 59% wanting to see if it was as good.
- But consumers looked upon own-brand products less favourably when they were confused by the packaging, with 38% of those who bought such a product by mistake saying it annoyed them and 30% reporting that they felt misled.
– British Brands Group director John Noble
Our research shows that consumers are more likely to buy own-label products if they look like brands.
Brands survive by being distinctive and standing out, and retailers are free-riding on brands' reputations.
Currently in the UK there is little to stop a competitor packaging its product to look like a familiar brand, whether or not the product's performance is in any way similar.
That can't be good if we want a market in which shoppers can make informed decisions at speed.
Too many consumers are being misled by retailers into buying own-brand products because the packaging mimics well-known equivalents, consumer campaigners have said.
A fifth of Which? members said they had accidentally bought a supermarket version of a favourite brand at least once.
The consumer group found that more than 150 own-label products that it considered to have "borrowed" elements from the packaging of branded competitors.
These included Kellogg's Coco Pops, McVitie's Digestives, Simple cleanser and wipes, Jacob's Cream Crackers and Radox bath gel.
Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy has described the rise of supermarkets and the closure of small shops across the country as "part of progress".
Sir Terry ran the supermarket giant for more than a decade which saw it become one of the world's biggest retailers, but critics have accused it of driving smaller independent shops out of business and turning town centres into ghost towns.
Appearing on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, he told host Kirsty Young he had mixed feelings on the issue.
Asked if seeing boarded-up shops made him sad, Sir Terry said: "It does but it is part of progress. People are not made to shop in supermarkets, they choose to shop there.
"High streets - some of them are medieval and the way that we live our lives now is very different, so what you have to do is make sure the benefits do outweigh the costs, and I think that they do."
Morrisons' share price ended the day down by 0.8 percent following the announcement that its Christmas trading figures were 2.5% lower than last year's.
Morrisons has blamed its "disappointing" sales performance over the festive period partly on "hard pressed consumers increasingly shopping to a budget" and partly on the rise of "other channels" - such as online retail.
- Improve promotional innovation
- Communicate points of difference (with its competitors)
- Accelerate other shopping channels, such as online and convenience
Commenting on "disappointing" trading figures over the festive period, Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said:
– Dalton Philips, morrisons ceo
In a difficult market our sales performance was lower than anticipated, but we have a strong business and significant opportunities to advance our strategy, as we accelerate our multi-channel offer.
Richard Taylor, the director of corporate affairs at Morrisons, told me that "no final decision has been made" on moving to selling groceries online yet.
He questioned whether introducing online shopping across the board would be fair on ordinary shoppers.
Online shopping is growing fast but is only five percent of the grocery market.
Morrisons suggest the higher costs of direct delivery mean the majority of customers end up subsidising the web savvy among us.
"Potentially customers who are shopping online [at competitors] are subsidising the ordinary shoppers - we don't think that's right," Mr Taylor said.