Supermarket delivery services boomed during the coronavirus lockdown and many households who had not previously had their groceries brought to their door are now committed online shoppers. With more slots available, and the past few weeks bringing changes to Tesco’s delivery charges and Ocado’s switch from Waitrose to M&S, it could be a good time to review your choice. We look at what’s on offer and who does it best.
Best for price
Industry magazine the Grocer has tracked prices every week on 33 goods at Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose for almost 20 years.
Its price check for the week ending 28 August named Morrisons as the cheapest, with a basket of 33 goods costing £81.81, and Asda just behind. Across the year the two chains tended to come top of the table for prices – except when the Grocer had a guest appearance from Lidl, Aldi or Iceland. On these occasions, the guests seriously undercut the traditional chains.
For example, the basket of 33 goods (the precise basket items change each week) on 17 January this year cost only £44.53 at Lidl, compared with £51.13 at Asda and £57.21 at Tesco.
Finding a delivery slot
When Guardian Money set up accounts at the supermarkets from an address in central London and searched for the next available delivery slot, Co-op was best, giving us a slot on the same day in only three hours’ time. Aldi was good, too, although that was its deal with Deliveroo on a limited range of items and currently only at relatively few of its stores.
Tesco and Sainsbury’s offered us next-day delivery slots, while Asda was a two-day wait.
Ocado had no slots available for the next five days and Morrisons and Waitrose were only a little better.
Amazon Fresh took the wooden spoon: it wasn’t able to offer us a slot at all. Note, of course, that this was only one test on one address – it is likely to vary enormously elsewhere.
Waitrose is delivering for free if you spend more than £60 (it will soon fall to £40), which means that while you may pay more for groceries you can save on delivery. Iceland is also cheap, with free delivery if you spend more than £35.
Tesco charges a flat-rate £4.50 for any slot. The others operate a demand-led system, with Sainsbury’s, for example, charging £6-£7 for Saturday and Sunday morning deliveries but only 50p at quiet times, such as Wednesday evenings.
While most supermarkets promise your groceries will be with you within a one-hour slot, Asda is still at two hours, as is Iceland.
Buy a delivery pass – if you can find one
Asda’s deal is best – £55 to cover delivery for a year. Unfortunately, it is not available at the moment as it is still tackling high demand. At £60 a year, Sainsbury’s is the cheapest you can buy now. Amazon’ offers free delivery – but only if you are a Prime member, costing £7.99 a month or £79 a year.
The challenge from Amazon
Amazon Fresh brings goods from Morrisons, Booths and Whole Foods Market. It currently delivers only in London and other parts of the south-east but there are plans to roll it out to more of the UK. We could not get a slot but its free delivery offer, if you are an existing Prime customer, plus Morrison’s prices, will no doubt prove popular.
More equitable and sustainable deliveries?
This week Co-op launched a home delivery trial with Pinga to cover parts of east London. Pinga claims: “We use minimal packaging, most of our people are on bicycles and we pay them fairly.” Its website promises delivery workers £10 a task. Under the Co-op deal, shoppers can pick 25 items from their local store and have them delivered within 90 minutes at a delivery charge of £2.99.
It is not the only delivery app for smaller baskets of groceries delivered locally. Chop Chop app works with Sainsbury’s and promises a 60-minute delivery on a minimum spend of £15 (maximum 20 items) with a £4.99 delivery fee.
What they offer
Availability: on registering at a central London address, on a Wednesday, we were able to find a slot the next day at 7pm. Tesco says it delivers to most UK residential addresses.
Minimum order: no minimum but baskets under £40 have a £4 charge added.
Delivery cost: £4.50. Click and collect at a store for £1.50. Regular delivery pass offers free deliveries any day, except same-day, for £7.99 a month or a £47.94 one-off payment for six months.
Time slots: one-hour slots, 8am to 11pm, bookable up to 21 days in advance.
Price promise: in March, Tesco launched a price-match deal, promising to match Aldi’s prices on “hundreds of Tesco and branded products”.
Availability: we were able to find a slot the next day at 4.30pm. Says it delivers to “98% of UK households”.
Minimum order: £40.
Delivery cost: 50p to £7, depending on time slot. Weekend mornings are typically £6.50 to £7, midweek late as low as 50p. Spend £100 and choose delivery Monday to Thursday after 2pm and delivery is free. Click and collect is free if you spend more than £40.
Regular delivery costs from £10 for a three-month midweek pass to £60 for a 12-month anytime pass.
Time slots: one-hour slots, 7am to 11pm.
Availability: on a Tuesday morning the next available slot was the Thursday morning.
Minimum order: £3 charge if the order is under £40.
Delivery cost: £1-£6.50.
New delivery passes are not available right now.
Time slots: two-hour slots, 6am to 11pm.
Availability: on a Tuesday morning, the next available slot was the Saturday afternoon.
Minimum order: £40.
Delivery cost: £2-£7 (on test). Free delivery to customers with Amazon Prime if they order through Morrisons on Amazon, a store on amazon.co.uk, or on the Morrisons store on the Prime Now app.
A delivery pass starts at £5 for a month for Tuesday-Thursday deliveries; £65 buys an annual pass covering all days of the week.
Time slots: one-hour slots, 5.30am to 11.30pm.
Price promise: 10% discount for NHS workers until the end of September
Availability: on a Tuesday morning the next available slot was the Saturday morning.
Minimum order: £60, or £40 if click and collect. The supermarket is planning to cut its minimum to £40 but no date yet set.
Delivery cost: no charge.
Time slots: one-hour slots, 6am to 11pm.
Availability: on a Tuesday afternoon the next available slot was 4pm that afternoon, with free delivery. Service is not yet fully national but is available in 200 towns and cities, and expanding. About 400 stores have also partnered with Deliveroo for local deliveries. Our local store promised a Deliveroo delivery in 20 minutes at a £2.99 delivery charge – or free if we spent more than £15.
Minimum order: £15.
Delivery cost: free to £3.99.
Time slots: one-hour slots, 9am to 10pm.
Price promise: Reward customers earn 5% back on most Co-op branded goods.
Availability: on a Tuesday afternoon the next available slot was the following Monday at 4pm.
Minimum order: £40.
Delivery cost: £1.99 to £6.99. A pass costs £9.99 a month or £99.99 annually.
Time slots: one-hour slots, 5.30am to midnight.
Price promise: Ocado checks your comparable shopping against the listed prices at Tesco.com. If it is more expensive at Ocado, it promises a voucher for more than the difference.
Availability: on a Tuesday afternoon the next available slot was the following morning at 6am.
Minimum order: £25
Delivery cost: £2 or free if order is more than £35
Time slots: two-hour slots, 6am to 9pm.
Price promise: £5 off first order above £40.
Availability: on a Tuesday afternoon we were unable to obtain any slots because the site was “undergoing maintenance”. The next day we were greeted with a message saying: “Free delivery is in high demand. Please request an invitation below and we’ll let you know as soon as you can start shopping with Fresh.” We requested one – and just got a green tick saying our request had been noted.
Minimum order: £15.
Delivery cost: £3.99 if an order is below £40; free above that if you have an Amazon Prime account.
Time slots: 7am to 11pm.
Price promise: In January it claimed that after price-testing 3,500 products from the main UK supermarkets, its prices were 6.9% lower.
Aldi via Deliveroo
Availability: limited to only 20 stores for now and shoppers can choose from only 150 items. On a Tuesday afternoon it promised to deliver in 20-40 minutes.
Minimum order: £15.
Delivery cost: £4.99.
Time slots: operates through Deliveroo
Price promise: “The prices of our products on the Deliveroo app may be different from what you pay in store,” Aldi says.