We did a Tesco shop with and without a Clubcard and found staggering differences

With the cost of living soaring, it’s safe to say that most of us are feeling the pinch. With out-of-control energy costs and huge weekly shopping bills, many people have been forced to borrow money from family or face sitting in freezing cold homes, with some not being able to afford to eat every day.

Fears about the increased cost of living are prompting families across the UK to look closely at household budgets and think of ways of saving money from day-to-day. These may be using slightly less energy around the house, looking for the best petrol prices or cancelling any unnecessary subscriptions you may have. You can read our list of 25 simple ways to save money here.

One of the biggest costs for families is the weekly shop, with the cost of food and household products increasing month-on-month in most supermarkets. However, there are ways to save, from planning ahead and writing a shopping list to shopping at unpopular times and picking up a bargain among the discounted items

: Thrifty mum reveals how to get £60 worth of Waitrose shopping for just £5

One of the best ways to save at supermarkets is by taking advantage of loyalty schemes. Sainsbury’s has Nectar cards, Lidl has Lidl Plus and Morrisons has MyMorrisons, while Tesco offers discounted prices to Clubcard holders. With nearly 20 million holders in the UK alone, Tesco’s scheme is incredibly popular, with shoppers able to access exclusive deals on everything from groceries to free trips to holiday venues.

Despite being a regular Tesco shopper, it was only recently that I signed up for a Clubcard of my own. A known moocher, I had noticed prices increasing amid a growing sea of yellow (marking exclusive Clubcard discounts) in the aisles of my local Tesco Express and, motivated by the double whammy of the rising cost of living and the shocking price increase of a meal deal to £3.50, I decided enough was enough.

Signing up is absolutely free, which, on the face of it, makes getting a Clubcard an absolute no-brainer. But are the savings that it promises actually that significant? How much cheaper does it make a standard weekly shop, at a time when discounts are so important to families across the country?

I decided to find out for myself by visiting my local Tesco Express. It is worth pointing out at this stage that there is a subtle difference in price between Express stores and the far larger (but less convenient) Extra stores, so my basket could be available for cheaper at one of the bigger shops.

There were lots of Clubcard deals for vegetables and salads

One of the first things I noticed when browsing the shelves was the sheer number of yellow signs around the store, on everything from green beans to laundry detergent. There were lots in every aisle, which gave me hope that my Clubcard would help me save quite a bit of money on my weekly shop.

My no-thrills shopping list was fairly standard, with 17 items in total ranging from fruit and veg to household products. It contained milk (two pints), a loaf of bread, bananas, carrots, mushrooms, easy peelers, penne pasta, chopped tomatoes, six eggs, bacon, two chicken breasts, two salmon fillets, Tropicana orange juice (1.7 litre), Frosties cereal, a four-pack of toilet roll, Fox’s chocolate biscuits and a pepperoni pizza.

However, other items such as meat had nearly no Clubcard offers

I soon found some good offers that I was able to take advantage of. The pizza – which would cost cardless folk £3.50 – was reduced to just £2 with a Clubcard, while the huge 1.7L carton of Tropicana was £3 (down from £4.80) for cardholders.

However, what quickly became apparent was that many of the essential items on my list were not eligible for any Clubcard savings. While there were plenty of discounted snacks, most items such as bread, milk and eggs were only available at full price, at least in the Tesco store that I visited. In the meat section, the only offer available was a 50p saving on duck fillets.

In total, my basket of 17 items came to £31.40. As I was politely reminded to scan my Clubcard by the automated voice at the self-service checkout and waited apprehensively to see how much I had saved. With the beep came the grand total – £26.29 – meaning I had saved £5.11 on my weekly shop.

I saved over £5 on my weekly shop

However, nearly two-thirds of this saving came from the orange juice and the pizza alone, with the Clubcard handing me discounts on just three other items. The items I saved on were:

  • Tropicana Smooth Orange Juice (1.7L) – £4.80 down to £3 (saving of £1.80)
  • Tesco Stonebaked Pepperoni Pizza – £3.50 down to £2 (saving of £1.50)
  • Kellogg’s Frosties Cereal (500g) – £3.30 down to £2.50 (saving of 80p)
  • Fox’s Chocolaty Milk Chocolate Rounds (130g) – £1.70 down to £1 (saving of 70p)
  • Tesco Chestnut Mushrooms (250g) – £1.05 down to 85p (saving of 20p)
  • Tesco Carrots (500g) – 35p down to 24p (saving of 11p)

All in all, having a Clubcard didn’t dramatically lower to cost of my shopping on this occasion, but it’s safe to say that an extra £5 in your pocket each week soon adds up. That is also not to say that you can’t make big savings using the card, with hundreds of offers available throughout the store.

I also earned a Clubcard point for every pound I spent in store, bagging me 26 points. With every point worth a penny (i.e. a £30 shop nets you 30 points, or 30p), I may not be splashing the cash just yet, but could soon have enough for some sizeable vouchers or even to trade in for three times the value at some of Tesco’s reward partners, including Pizza Express, Disney Plus and Cineworld. After all, who wouldn’t fancy a treat after all that shopping?

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