MSE News

Tesco axes cheap grocery delivery and collection slots

Tesco has started charging flat fees for grocery delivery and Click & Collect slots, in a major shake-up which means cheaper times are no longer available and some customers will have to pay much more.

Until last week, Tesco operated a peak and off-peak pricing model, meaning customers paid between £2 and £7 for deliveries, and from nothing to £2 for grocery collection, depending on the time slot they booked.

But from Monday 3 August, the supermarket giant has moved to a flat pricing structure. All one-hour delivery slots now cost £4.50, unless your address is only supplied by a 'fulfilment centre' – a warehouse which has slightly higher operating costs – in which case they are £5.50. All Click & Collect slots, where you order online but collect the groceries yourself from a supermarket, now cost £1.50. If you order items worth less than £40 for delivery (or less than £25 for Click & Collect), you'll also have to pay a £4 surcharge.

Tesco says it's brought in the change because it's faced constant demand throughout the week since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But some are furious at the change, given that the price of Tesco's cheapest one-hour delivery slot is rising by 125%.

The supermarket will continue to offer its 'flexi saver' option, which allows customers to book a much less specific four-hour window, and the £3 price for this isn't changing. Tesco has confirmed for us that this option is now available to priority access customers (those who are vulnerable and shielding), which wasn't the case previously.

For full help on how to cut the cost of your weekly shop, see our Supermarket Shopping Tips.

'I am not paying such a ludicrous delivery charge'

The change in pricing structure isn't all bad news – it'll mean customers who were only able to get more expensive slots will now pay less, as no delivery will cost more than £5.50. But some Tesco customers – particularly those who previously relied on getting the cheapest delivery slots – have reacted angrily to the changes. Here are just a few of the comments we've seen on social media:

How Tesco's delivery fees compare with rival supermarkets

We've compared Tesco's new delivery charges with those at six rival supermarkets – and strikingly, all six rivals now offer some cheaper delivery slots than Tesco.

Yet that doesn't tell the whole story, as since the start of the pandemic availability of delivery slots has been a problem for many – so customers can't always rely on being able to choose one of the cheapest slots. Four of the supermarkets we checked also offer some slots which are pricier than Tesco's most expensive slots – so if you're looking to cut the cost of grocery delivery, what slots are actually available in your area from each supermarket will be key. With Tesco, you do at least now know the maximum fee will be £5.50.

Grocery delivery costs by supermarket

Supermarket Single delivery cost Delivery plan (covers fees for all deliveries) Min order value (1)
Asda £1-£6.50 Not currently avail for new custs – we're checking costs for existing custs £40
Iceland £2 for orders under £35, free on £35+ orders N/A £25
Morrisons £1.70-£6.90 £65/yr (equiv £5.42/mth). For midweek-only deliveries, it's £35/yr (equiv £2.92/mth) £40
Ocado £2.99-£6.99 for orders under £70, free on £70+ orders £10.99/mth or £109.99/yr. For midweek-only deliveries, it's £6.99/mth or £59.99/yr £40
Sainsbury's 50p-£7. Free for £100+ orders delivered Mon-Thu after 2pm £60/yr (equiv £5/mth). For midweek-only delivery, it's £30/yr (equiv £2.50/mth) £40 (though with single delivery can be cut to £25 for a £7 surcharge)
Tesco £4.50 (£5.50 if order comes from fulfillment centre) (2) £7.99/mth £40 (orders below this subject to £4 surcharge)
Waitrose Free on orders over £60 N/A £60

(1) Minimum you must spend to get a delivery for standard charges. In some cases where indicated you can pay a surcharge to reduce the minimum order value. (2) Customers can also book a 'flexi saver' slot within a four-hour window for £3.

It's also worth noting that Amazon has just launched a free grocery delivery service for Amazon Prime members who live in London and certain parts of south east England – see more info in our Amazon free grocery delivery service MSE News story.

How to cut grocery delivery costs

While Tesco's flat fee pricing structure won't cost everyone more, if you're unhappy with the change and want to know how to keep costs down, here are some key tips:

  • Get two or more Tesco deliveries a month? Consider getting its Delivery Saver option. This costs £7.99/mth (or £47.94 if you want to lock in for six months) and gives you free deliveries and free Click & Collect as often as you want, so long as your order costs £40+. So if you know you'll order at least twice from Tesco in a month, it'll work out cheaper. You can see full info and sign up via the Tesco website (though right now it says it's limiting the number of new sign-ups due to the pandemic, so you may have to wait).

  • Don't need a precise delivery slot? Look for a £3 'flexi saver' slot instead. While the price of the cheapest one-hour delivery slots has risen sharply, Tesco has confirmed it will continue to offer 'flexi saver' deliveries. With these, you book a delivery within a four-hour window. A one-hour slot is then confirmed on the day of delivery – the time can vary, but the first batch of notifications is sent at 7am.

  • Consider switching to Click & Collect, or shopping in-store if you can. Of course, not everyone will be able to travel or will want to shop in-store, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. But if you can, it is a cheaper option. Click & Collect slots now cost a flat £1.50, and shopping in-store is of course free, though you'll need to factor in travel costs (and it may take more time).

  • Look at switching to a rival supermarket – but factor in the cost of groceries as well as delivery. Our table above shows how delivery costs at different supermarkets compare. All rivals we checked do have some cheaper slots, though it depends on how much you're ordering and, of course, slot availability is key – if the cheaper slots aren't available, the slots you're left with could actually be more expensive than Tesco.

    Remember too that any savings you make on the cost of delivery may be dwarfed by differences in the price of groceries themselves. So if you're purely trying to cut costs, make sure you look at the total cost of the shop and not just the delivery fee when working out what's cheapest.

  • Check if Deliveroo or Uber Eats deliver to your area. Deliveroo and Uber Eats are food-delivery services, best known for delivering from restaurants and fast-food outlets, but they also cover corner shops and off-licences, as well as chains such as Co-op and M&S Food outlets.

    So if Uber Eats or Deliveroo operate in your area, it's worth checking out what groceries might be available to you (they both have a 'grocery' category, which should help filter out the takeaways). You'll usually have to pay a £3-£5 delivery fee. See more details in MSE Sarah's Online grocery delivery blog from back in May.

For more general help, see our Supermarket Shopping Tips.

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