Beware... Littlewoods often charges up to 34% MORE than for the SAME item

Littlewoods and are both essentially online 'department stores' and they're owned by the same parent company, Shop Direct. The two sites look very similar, and while the product ranges aren't always identical, there's a lot of crossover. So you can surely buy from either and it makes no difference… right? WRONG!

In my job, I spend a lot of time comparing prices online (see our Online Shopping Tips for the best ways to do this), and that’s how I stumbled on what I’m here to warn you about. At first, it was a pair of Nike trainers – £70 at Littlewoods, £55 at Very. A price difference of 27%.

So I did a bit of digging and a surprising trend emerged. Both sites are selling many of the same items as each other (more on other similarities below). However, Littlewoods often charges up to 34% more than its sister site Very* for the exact same product.

What did I find?

I picked a random sample of 30 Littlewoods items, across a range of categories, and I found every one of them cheaper at Very. Though I'm not saying you should automatically assume Very's price is cheapest – there are other sites out there which could be cheaper still.

Obviously, I couldn't compare everything on both sites but there's clearly a pattern here. Yet when I asked Shop Direct if it were generally the case that Littlewoods is more expensive than Very, it wouldn't give me a straight answer, which might tell its own story.

Item (1) Littlewoods Price (2) Very Price Difference Next cheapest
Thomas Sabo silver bracelet £119 £89 £30 (34%) £89 at Thomas Sabo
Fitbit Versa Lite £199.99 £149.99 £50 (33%) £147 at Amazon
Kenwood CH180 mini chopper £25.99 £19.99 £6 (30%) £16.99 at Clas Ohlson UK
Nintendo Switch console £364.99 £279.99 £85 (30%) £279 at Amazon and
Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts castle £114.99 £89.99 £25 (28%) £79.95 at Amazon
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 kids' trainers in pink £70 £55 £15 (27%) £55 at Yoox
Nike fleece pants in plum £42 £33 £9 (27%) £32.99 at Zalando at Next
Cosatto Den group 0+1 iSize car seat £469.99 £374.99 £95 (25%) £299.95 at Halfords
Ted Baker Pave Bobble Matinee purse in red £105 £85 £20 (24%) £85 at Ted Baker
Monsoon Suzie scallop cami in navy £30 £25 £5 (20%) £25 at Monsoon

(1) These are just 10 of the 30 random items I checked (see the end of this article for the full list).

(2) All prices in the table are what we found when we last checked on Tue 21 May at 12pm.

It's worth noting one difference between the two sites. Very charges £3.99 for delivery while at Littlewoods it's free. Yet in most of the examples I've checked, the Littlewoods price premium exceeds £4 – so even once delivery's tacked on, Very's still cheaper.

A few further observations...

While checking out the prices, I was struck by just how similar the two websites are – not only in what they sell, but also in appearance and site layout.

Product details the same on both sites

There was even a typo in the word 'Zoom' on these Nike trainers replicated on both sites.

'Low stock' items the same on both sites

Something else I begun to notice was whenever an item was marked 'low stock' on one of the sites it would also be 'low stock' on the other, which could be a coincidence, of course, but more likely, indicates Very and Littlewoods probably share a warehouse.

Order confirmation texts the same from both sites

I decided to buy something – a cheap pair of slippers – ordering from both sites at roughly the same time. Straight away I received an order confirmation via email and text from both from Littlewoods and Very, and even those were almost identical in appearance:

Courier and return address the same for both sites

Both orders were delivered at the same time by the same courier (a day after I ordered), even though one was free delivery and one was paid for. And finally, when I looked at the return address for each – you guessed it – that was also the same for both orders:

So why is Littlewoods charging more?

A spokesperson for the parent company Shop Direct told me:

We’re transparent about pricing to help customers compare our prices with other retailers and pick the shopping destination that’s right for them. Very and Littlewoods offer value in different ways. Littlewoods offers a range of leading brands and free returns, as well as free delivery and different ways to pay compared to Very.

One final thing to say is I'm not the first journalist to have picked up on the wonky pricing – it was reported elsewhere in the media three years ago, when Shop Direct issued a similar statement to the above. Yet as far as I can see, it hasn't done much about it. 

  • Full list of 30 randomly selected items

    Item Littlewoods Price (1) Very Price Difference
    V by Very Priscilla bag  £28 £20 £8 (40%)
    Thomas Sabo silver bracelet £119 £89 £30 (34%)
    Minnie Mouse kids' digital watch £19.99 £15 £4.99 (33%)
    Mothercare Journey 4 travel system  £439.99 £329.99 £110 (33%)
    Wondercore Smart Ab Machine  £119.99 £89.99 £30 (33%)
    Fitbit Versa Lite £199.99 £149.99 £50 (33%)
    Virgin Experience Days Lady Dinah's cat cafe high tea £64.99 £49.99 £15 (30%)
    Kenwood CH180 mini chopper £25.99 £19.99 £6 (30%)
    Nintendo Switch console £364.99 £279.99 £85 (30%)
    L’Oreal Paris true match foundation £6.49 £4.99 £1.50 (30%)
    V by Very 2-pack kids' gingham summer dress (9-10yrs) £20 £16 £4 (30%)
    Panasonic ES-RW30-S511 cordless shaver £65 £50 £15 (30%)
    Huawei P30 - Aurora 128GB £899.99 £699.99 £200 (29%)
    L.O.L Surprise! Fuzzy pets £17.99 £13.99 £4 (29%)
    Paco Rabanne Olympea EDP 50ml £80 £62.50 £17.50 (28%)
    Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts castle £114.99 £89.99 £25 (28%)
    Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 kids' trainers in pink £70 £55 £15 (27%)
    Nike fleece pants in plum £42 £33 £9 (27%)
    Nike Benassi sliders £28 £22 £6 (27%)
    Me To You 'Mr & Mrs' champagne glass set  £19 £14.99 £4.01 (27%)
    Cosatto Den group 0+1 iSize car seat £469.99 £374.99 £95 (25%)
    Santa Rosa 6-piece outdoor dining set  £124.99 £99.99 £25 (25%)
    River Island Amelie super skinny jeans £50 £40 £10 (25%)
    Ted Baker Pave Bobble Matinee purse in red £105 £85 £20 (24%)
    Monsoon Harry Faux Fur Collard Coat £210 £170 £40 (24%)
    Adidas Originals 3-stripe swim shorts £42 £34 £8 (24%)
    Early Learning Centre bubble blower mower £31.99 £25.99 £6 (23%)
    Vango Taiga 600XL 6-person tent £1,099 £899.99 £199.01 (22%)
    Monsoon Suzie scallop cami in navy £30 £25 £5 (20%)
    Everyday Collection two Egyptian cotton bath sheets in duck egg £35.99 £32 £3.99 (12%)

    (1) All prices in the table are what we found when we last checked on Tue 21 May at 12pm.

What are your thoughts? Have you shopped at Littlewoods and are you surprised by the price difference? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook.