Surge Pricing Affects Toothpaste

Surge Pricing Affects Toothpaste

The rules of supply and demand should be fairly simple, but they fail to explain the results of a recent survey by Which? magazine.

Reported in the national press, the Consumers Association has looked into the cost of toiletries and found huge fluctuations in the price of individual items over the course of a year. This may come as a surprise to dental team members who do not do the household shop, or rely on the samples cupboard for their toothpaste.

Which? monitored like-for-like products from the three top-selling brands that were available for at least 42 weeks of the year between March 2023 and February 2024. The organisation took a snapshot price for each product at the same time each week, excluding multi-buy offers and loyalty pricing.

The price variations were applied to both ‘premium’ and more basic products. At one end of the price scale, the price of a 75ml tube of Colgate Max White Ultimate Radiance varied from £11 up to £25.20 in Waitrose. Asda and Boots commonly priced the product at £12. A ‘standard’ product, Colgate’s Max White Expert Whitening Toothpaste, ranged between £2.50 and £5 in a year.

Prices were surveyed at Asda, Boots, Morrisons, Ocado, Superdrug, Waitrose and Tesco. A full comparison with Aldi and Lidl was not possible due to their smaller range of products.

Which? Retail editor, Ele Clark, said: “Retailers constantly change products’ prices based on demand, seasonality, agreements with manufacturers, and what their competitors are doing.” Recognising that this was  a fast changing market, the advice was to keep watch on prices and stock up when prices were lower, and in Ele’s words, “ask yourself if it’s really essential to have your preferred brand and consider switching to a cheaper product that can do just as good a job."

In March 2024 the Association published a guide to choosing a toothpaste, which described different types and gave accepted generic advice, but did not single out particular ‘best buys’.

The price fluctuations were not restricted to toothpaste, though this was the item that both the Guardian and Express led with. Mouthwashes, deodorants and razor blades, also showed price variations of around 100% over the survey period.

When approached, Waitrose said that they aimed to offer the best value to customers through a range of deals. The other retailers did not comment.

In 2022 the charity Hygiene Bank which aims to help support food banks with items such as toothpaste, deodorant and soap, claimed that more than 3 million UK adults were affected by hygiene poverty.

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