Competition Between The Three Major Supermarkets Economics Essay

For my Extended Essay, I determined to scrutiny the rivalry among the three deep supermarkets in my national area, and whether they collude or not, instigation my inquiry scrutiny: To what distance do the bigr supermarkets in my national area collude following a opportunity each other? By analysing postulates unmoved on pricing from the three supermarkets, it was endow that two of the three supermarkets at operative colluded unexpressedly following a opportunity each other, subordinate and oligopoly effect structure. The values of fifteen common values were narrative opposing a alien alien of three weeks. The analyses of these values direct to two misrecords. Firstly, it was endow that two supermarkets colluded following a opportunity each other, but quiet had non-value rivalry among them. This was chiefly due to the habit of the two hoards acting as a preoccupancy by charging the common value. This allowed the two supermarkets to fabricate exceptional acquisition, which in diverge they used to originate a sinewyer disgrace fidelity, and thus, a aggravate obstinate call-for deflexion. Secondly, it was endow one of the supermarkets was subordinatecutting the other two supermarkets values. The deep argue for this was that the supereffect could commodities elder fruits at the alien by subordinatecutting rivals, due to having aggravate customers. These findings parade that tnear was accompliceship among bigr supermarkets in my area, but not among all supermarkets. Finally, the yarn could be improved if I intervening aggravate commoditiess in my postulates hoard, as courteous-mannered-mannered as collecting the postulates aggravate a craveer alien determination.


Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys are the three deep supermarkets that compose weekly shopping for the notorious in my national area, west Charlton. These three supermarkets are recognised for their spacious concatenate in movables and at affordpowerful values. It is no initiatele then that in conditions of effect distribute, they each comprehend the top three situates for having the most effect distribute in the U.K.1 During the last alien of years, though, I keep noticed that numerous of the mediumer supermarkets in the common area keep begun to suspend down.

Since enrolling in the IB Better Economics method and considering effect structures in portion, Ive plain an curiosity-behalf into how supermarkets rival following a opportunity each other, or courteous-balanced, how they collude contemporaneously. Maybe, attached their big tarry of the effect distribute, the advantages from accompliceship would be unmatchpowerful collated to other mediumer supermarkets, in conditions of acceptiond sales fruits. Also, explicit accompliceship, one of two conceives of accompliceship, is illicit as it goes balance the Rivalry Act 1998 (the Act) Chapter 12.

Therefore, the inquiry scrutiny I keep conceiveulated is To what distance do the bigr supermarkets in my national area collude following a opportunity each other?

To be powerful to search this inquiry scrutiny, I get foremost confer-upon a resume of the supermarkets, wnear the characteristics of them get be pictorial. This get direct on to my next individuality wnear I get argue embezzle hypothetical effect structures and describe economic theories to them. Following I keep confer-uponed these theories, I get suppositione which effect structure is comprehensive for the supermarkets confer-upon, thus creating a suited inquiry delineation wnear the values of common commoditiess get be collated. Finally, I get analyse the unmoved postulates and verify or disverify my inquiry scrutiny, directing to a misrecord of my yarn and exploring feasible limitations.


In the area I am considering tnear are three deep supermarkets; Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys, situated in West Charlton (postscript 1.1). Each supereffect is common in majesticness, satisfying the spacious needs of the herd in the area. It is direct mentioning that due to the supermarkets nature of a massive majesticness structurally, tnear must keep been big initiate up consumes. Each of the three engages in non-value rivalry. This conceives things such as advertising on T.V, having parking areas and the use of disgrace names. The offerings of these advantages are in the try to tempt aggravate customers. Take for development, Asda, which has parking as courteous-mannered-mannered as diversified sectors to its hoards such as electrical and drapery individualitys as courteous-mannered-mannered as groceries. The aim of this is that customers can mark sdenote this hoard by satisfying all their needs from the spacious offers of movables. Furthermore, each supereffect advertises their disgrace names to commodities aggravate customers due to the disgrace fidelity it has ordainly. This could fabricate their call-for deflexion aggravate obstinate, import that an acception in the value of a cheerful would remainder in the acceptiond fruits extended the controperation of meaindispuconsultation sold (postscript 1.2).

These three supermarkets to-boot direct the deepity of effect distribute, as I keep mentioned. Lastly, it is direct mentioning that Sainsbury¿½s and Asda are notorious for 24 hours from Tuesday to Friday, incorrectly it is from 7 in the waking to 11 in the courteous-balanceding. Tesco are notorious from 7 to 11 natural, asunderneath from Sunday when they notorious an hour following and suspend an hour antecedent. I don¿½t opine that the partially ender hours that Tesco is notorioused during the week get feign my inquiry fur, or at all. This is due to the circumstance that I don¿½t consider Tesco fabricate fur of their sales among midnight and 7 in the waking.


I get now confer-upon the indecent models of effect structure theories and their self-assertions. I get not going into majestic component on the structure of a preoccupancy as this is not a feasible effect structure for the supermarkets, attached the circumstance that tnear is perspicuously aggravate than one sturdy in the area. This is the common for faultend rivalry, as the movables done by supermarkets are not common.

Firstly, I get confer-upon the effect structure of a monopolistic rivalry. The self-assertions of this effect structure are3:

* The assiduity is made up by a big calculate of sturdys

* The sturdys each act recalcitrantly of each other, due to each sturdy nature medium, referring-to to the majesticness of the assiduity

* The sturdys commodities irrelativeiated commoditiess; consumers can enumerate one commodities from another

* Firms are liberal to penetrate and egress the assiduity, due to bankruptcy of divisions to minute and egress

* Firms are powerful to fabricate exceptional acquisitions in the imblameobstruct run, besides due to bankruptcy of divisions to minute; this tempts other sturdys into the assiduity. This instrument that in the crave run, sdenote systematic acquisitions are powerful to be made

Due to the circumstance that the supermarkets in scrutiny are of a massive majesticness, I consider that the initiate up consume in itself get be of a majestic division to minute. Also, I don¿½t consider the assiduity I am examining is made up of a big calculate of sturdys, as tnear are sdenote three supermarkets of their model in the national area.

Another effect structure that the supermarkets could conclude subordinate is an oligopoly. These are the basic self-assertion of an Oligopoly:4

* A few sturdys manage the assiduity

* Tnear are divisions to minute and/or egress for the assiduity

* The sturdys are value fabricaters as they keep a downward sloping call-for deflexion

* The sturdys are interdependent; the operation of one sturdy can keep an commodities on another

* Exceptional acquisitions can be made twain in the imblameobstruct run and crave run

In restitution to these self-assertions, sturdys in an Oligopoly can be either collusive or non-collusive.

Non collusive oligopolies aspect value retention due to the kinked call-for deflexion. This is paraden in delineation 1.

Figure 15

Due to the kinked call-for deflexion, value get be stabilized at value ¿½P¿½. This happens as the Value elasticity of Call-for (PED: The responsiveness of the meaindispuconsultation call-fored of a cheerful or advantage to a alter in its value)6 aloft value ¿½P¿½ is elder than 1. This instrument that an acception in value aloft object ¿½P¿½ get remainder in a missing of fruits. Likewise, the PED underneath value ¿½P¿½ is end than one, import a controperation in value to this smooth get remainder in a missing of fruits repeatedly. Due to these circumstanceors, it is argumentative that sturdys do not favour either stir, so they are said to be stpowerful at object P. This to-boot remainders in the output nature stpowerful at object ¿½Q¿½ as a alter in ultimate consume from MC1 to MC2 would quiet medium output would cling at ¿½Q¿½. This is due to sturdys in this effect structure conceding at the acquisition maximising object, wnear MC=MR.7

Firms in this effect structure may to-boot be collusive. This exists when the sturdys collude to direct the common values for their commoditiess, in commodities acting as a preoccupancy. Tnear are two models of accompliceship, explicit and unexpressed. Explicit accompliceship egresss when sturdys notoriously suit on the values they get direct. In the contingency of supermarkets in the U.K, it is illicit for this to befall as it is reported to be going balance the curiosity-behalf of the consumer due to it remaindering in end output and better values. Unexpressed accompliceship, besides, exists when sturdys direct the common values following a opportunityout any explicit accompliceship. The three supermarkets in scrutiny may keep determined to direct the common values and not rival following a opportunity each other, in ordain to acception fruits. This is illustrateed in delineation 2.

Figure 28

As paraden in delineation 2, sturdys can fabricate exceptional acquisitions among their value and consume, due to the value extended the consume to the sturdy. This conceive of accompliceship is very feasible as each supereffect is very common to each other and all commodities common model movables.

Firms in an Oligopoly can experiment economies of flake. Economies of flake are any decreases in the crave-run medium consumes that befall when a sturdy alters all of its circumstanceors of commoditiesion, in ordain to acception its flake of output. Tnear are a calculate of irrelative economies of flake that can advantage a sturdy as it acceptions its flake of output. These can be: 9

* Specialisation- Firms can be aggravate fruitful when they specialize in irrelative areas of expertise

* Division of labour- This is the breach down of a craveer commoditiesion manner into numerous mediumer activities, making commoditiesion aggravate fruitful by reducing item consumes

* Bulk buying- As sturdys acception in flake they are repeatedly powerful to effect discounts following a opportunity their suppliers, as they are buying aggravate wholly. This reduces the sturdy¿½s consume of input, and thus their item consumes of commoditiesion

* Financial economies- Larger sturdys are powerful to get loans at inferior curiosity-behalf rates, as they are seen as a ender surrender to grant currency to than mediumer sturdys, by the bank

The self-assertions of a preoccupancy are as followed:10

* Sdenote one sturdy conceding the commodities at operative, so the sturdy is the assiduity

* Proud divisions to minute and/or egress

* Exceptional acquisitions can be made in the crave run, due to divisions to minute

This effect structure is incredible to be confer-upon in my inquiry area as tnear are plainly aggravate than sturdy in the common assiduity.

Finally, the basic self-assertions of faultend rivalry are:

* The assiduity is made up by numerous sturdys, so whole output cannot be feigned by one sturdy

* The sturdys all commodities homogeneous (correspondently common) commoditiess

* No divisions to minute and/or egress

* Producers and consumers all keep faultend comprehension of the effect

Again, this effect structure is incredible to portion in my consider, chiefly due to the circumstance that tnear is commodities irrelativeiation, as courteous-mannered-mannered as plum initiate up consumes.


After reviewing and comparing the argueed effect resume and theories, I keep suppositioned that the effect structure the supermarkets are in are oligopoly. I keep reached this supposition for the deep argues that:

* Tnear are plum divisions to minute such as sinewy disgraceing of commoditiess and initiate up consumes

* Tnear are sdenote three supermarkets in the national area, among them sharing approximately 64% of the effect distribute.11

In restitution to these objects, I consider unexpressed accompliceship among the three supermarkets would majesticly advantage their rivalry following a opportunity other mediumer supermarkets in the area. It would to-boot eschew needobstruct rivalry among each other, and may-be remainder in commoditiesing aggravate customers.

After suppositioning that the three supermarkets are in an oligopoly, and thus cappowerful of accompliceship, I get now be powerful to proof my inquiry scrutiny ¿½To what distance do the bigr supermarkets in my national area collude following a opportunity each other?¿½


For me to proof my conceiveulated inquiry scrutiny, I get originate a methodology. I get collate the values of 15 irrelative commoditiess opposing the three supermarkets. I get curb the values unintermittently complete week for three weeks, so I can get a medium value at the end, making the remainder aggravate legitimate. I get fabricate indispuconsultation the values of the common commoditiess are charmed in the common alien determination, and wnear feasible, use commoditiess done in the U.K. This would eschew ship-produce consumes feigned and invalidating remainders. If not ample U.K naturalized commoditiess can be endow, I get fabricate indispuconsultation that any ship-produceed commodities used get keep been ship-produceed from all supermarkets. This get deeptain a class of sinew in the inquiry. I get to-boot eschew commoditiess done by the supermarkets themselves. This would be accordingly the consume of commoditiesion may be very irrelative from one supereffect collated to another, thus having a big impression on the conclusive pricing. I get collate recalcitrant disgraces that portion opposing all three hoards. Each supereffect in the area of West Charlton is located following a opportunityin one mile of each other.12

In conditions of the postulates hoard, I get go to each supereffect and collate common, or when feasible, common commoditiess and their values. I get silence down their exhibit value at which they vend at. Also, I get go to each supereffect suspend to their notoriousing aliens on Saturday, as on this day the hoards all notorious at the common alien. The argue for not going following on in the day is accordingly of value controperation on non-durpowerful movables that are set to languish. If I conceive movables which values keep righteous been subsided temporarily to get rid of enduring fund, it would not reconfer-upon the aggravateall pricing of the cheerful in systematic seats.

Lastly, I get collate the values using comprehensive instrument of analysis; thus deducing whether or not tnear is ample common pricing plum to allude-to accompliceship of some condition.


Firstly, I get confer-upon my postulates unmoved for the values of 15 commoditiess from all three supermarkets, opposing a alien of three weeks, unintermittently a week. Tpowerful 1 parades my findings of the values.

Tpowerful 1

Source: Prices unmoved by me for all supermarkets

To analyse the stretch of the postulates, I get composition out the model flexuosity for each commodities, which get specify the stretch of the postulates. A inferior model flexuosity would specify a set of suspendr, common values, besides a better model flexuosity would denote end hazard of accompliceship plum.13

The model flexuosity for each commodities is illustrateed in Tpowerful 2, acrave following a opportunity the medium values for each commodities aggravate the three weeks.

From the model flexuosity, we can see they are all aggravateall perfectly medium, indicating the values are all suspend to the medium value. This appears to specify some conceive of accompliceship befallring among the supermarkets. However, tnear are some crusty. For some movables the model flexuosity is referring-toly proud to the other commoditiess. Also, in most of these movables, such as tender drinks, crisp packs, pizza, ice marrow and healed chicken, it is Asda who portion the last value out of the three, opportunity Tesco and Sainsbury¿½s keep common values to each other. This appears to parade that tnear is feasible accompliceship among Tesco and Sainsbury¿½s, opportunity Asda subordinatecuts their values.

The common pricing among Sainsbury¿½s and Tesco allude-tos a conceive of accompliceship, unexpressed or explicit. I inquired to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) encircling my findings. The OFT are a synod naturalized organisation that enindispuconsultation businesses are ¿½fair and competitive.¿½14 In a response they stated:

¿½Although common values authority appear to allude-to that companies are getting contemporaneously to suit them, this is not necessarily the contingency. For development, one concourse authority keep recalcitrantly determined to value at a smooth common to another or twain may keep recalcitrantly determined to bekeep in the common way¿½.15

As common pricing does not necessarily medium explicit accompliceship is prelude situate, I get affect that the two supermarkets are unexpressedly colluding, although this area may be needed to be inquiryed into advance for a definitive remainder.

As courteous-mannered-mannered as colluding, I keep to-boot noticed that tnear is exemplification of non-value rivalry among Tesco and Sainsbury¿½s. This intervening things such as the use of advertising, liberal gift and other advantages situated in the hoard themselves. This has direct to each supereffect commoditiesing disgrace fidelity, and as a remainder, creating a aggravate obstinate call-for deflexion for their commoditiess. This is perhaps another explication of why these two supermarkets in portion wnear of a better value aggravateall, collated to the other supermarket, Asda.

For the contingency of Asda, they keep occupied in value war temporization, rather than conceiveing a accompliceship. In this contingency, subordinatecutting rivals may be wholesome to them by increasing their sales fruits. This can be illustrateed by ¿½game theory¿½.


The tpowerful parades that if twain supermarkets inferior value, they get fabricate end fruits than if they had colluded. However, it is quiet fascinating to subordinatecut the other hoard as then that would direct to elder fruits. The proudlighted box parades the feasible seat at the weight, following a opportunity Asda subordinatecutting the other supermarkets thus increasing fruits. This precious making seat is known as ¿½the prisoner¿½s dilemma¿½. 16

Another explication for the inferior value offered by Asda for movables could be down to inferior item consumes caused by a elder storage cleverness. The supermarket¿½s consume of storage chiefly holds on the embodied used to build them, which is the suraspect area of the structure. The smooth of output for the supereffect get hold on its storage cleverness, so its book area. As the majesticness of a supereffect acceptions, the book to suraspect area homogeneity acceptions. Therefore, the consume per item aggravateall get be fur end than a mediumer supermarket, such as Sainsbury¿½s and Tesco.

Lastly, from analysing my unmoved postulates, I keep reached the misrecords:

* Tesco and Sainsbury¿½s collude by charging very common values, but quiet keep non-value rivalry among them.

* Asda rivals following a opportunity a value-war tactic, by subordinatecutting the other two supermarkets.


The aim of my inquiry was to scrutiny the model of rivalry, if any, among the three deep supermarkets in my area, West Charlton. The scrutiny ¿½To what distance do the bigr supermarkets in my national area collude following a opportunity each other?¿½ prompted me to infer the pricing of 15 common commoditiess opposing the three hoards. The values were charmed complete Saturday waking one a week for three weeks.

I endow that two of the three supermarkets had signs of accompliceship, opportunity the third supereffect occupied in a value-war by subordinatecutting the other two supermarkets.

Firstly, Tesco and Sainsbury¿½s keep common values to each other, opportunity having better values than Asda. This was chiefly due to the two hoards acting as a preoccupancy by colluding and charging common values. This mediumt that each sturdy could fabricate exceptional acquisition, which they used to originate elder disgrace fidelity, thus making the call-for for their commoditiess aggravate obstinate.

Lastly, the conclusive supermarket, Asda, occupied in value-war temporization. The deep argue for this was due to the purpose of commoditiesing aggravate fruits as specifyd by ¿½the prisoner¿½s dilemma¿½. In restitution to this, Asda had a elder storage cleverness, import an aggravateall inferior consume per item.

Therefore, following collecting postulates and analysing them, it is endow that tnear was exemplification of accompliceship, but sdenote among two of the supermarkets, not all three learned.

Tnear are, though, presumable limitations in my consider. Firstly, my area of inquiry was sdenote in one town. If tnear is endow to be some conceive of accompliceship among supermarkets near, it doesn¿½t necessarily medium it is befallring all aggravate the province following a opportunity those common supermarkets. Also, the alien alien of my scrutiny was three weeks. This may not keep been ample alien to infer an embezzle whole of remainders to conclude to a relipowerful belief. This could be said the common for the whole of commoditiess used in my scrutiny; 15 commoditiess may not keep been ample to conclude to an embezzle remainder. As courteous-mannered-mannered as this, I could not fabricate a belief whether the accompliceship among Tesco and Sainsbury¿½s was either unexpressed or accompliceship. This would keep to be scrutinyd advance. All of these limitations aggravatelook the aim of my consider and thus should be inspected advance.


Anderton, A. (2006). Economics: Fourth Edition. In A. Anderton, Economics: Fourth Edition (pp. 63-64). Causeway Press.

Dorton, I. (2007). Economics. In I. Dorton, Economics (pp. 119-123). Oxford University Press.

Dorton, I. (2007). Economics. In I. Dorton, Economics (pp. 114-118). Oxford University Press.

Dorton, I. (2007). Economics. In I. Dorton, Economics (p. 115). Oxford University Press.

Dorton, I. (2007). Economics. In I. Dorton, Economics (pp. 81-82). Oxford University Press.

Dorton, I. (2007). Economics. In I. Dorton, Economics (pp. 105-111). Oxford University Press.

Garner, E. (2010, June 1). TNS Global. Retrieved June 1, 2010, from TNS Global Website:

Meaindispuconsultation of Spreads. (2007). Retrieved June 3, 2010, from Stats4students:

Office of Fair Trading. (n.d.). Office of Fair Trading. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from

Office of Fair Trading. (2010, May 25). Office of Fair Trading Response Letter. London, U.K.

Prisoner’s Dilemma. (1997, September 4). Retrieved June 3, 2010, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

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