Can you save money on your groceries at one of Britain’s pricier food shops?
M&S have a reputation for pricey yet high quality produce in their Simply Food and Foodhall stores – but how do their prices compare to other supermarkets and can you get a reasonably priced grocery shop from there? Here are our top tips to bring down the cost of your trolley.
Sign up to Sparks
Sparks is the M&S loyalty scheme. Though you won’t earn points or get exclusive prices for scanning your card at the till, it’s still worthwhile joining.
The Sparks offers are loaded onto your app and you have to activate them first. Most last a few weeks so you have plenty of time to use them.
Here’s what you can expect to get, even if you’re just an occasional M&S shopper:
Although the free gifts are not frequent, I’ve received a few bags of Percy Pigs, a couple of loaves of bread and even a large chocolate bar. Keep an eye out on your birthday too, to see if a treat has been added to help you celebrate.
You’ll also see personalised offers covering both groceries and clothes in the app. The best ones tend to be a set percent off meat or fish, though sometimes it’s specific products. Again you’ll need to activate them before shopping.
Win your shopping
Another reason to use Sparks is the chance to get your shopping for free. Each store gives away one shop to someone who scans their Sparks card every week.
I’ve not seen anyone who has bagged this, but the staff see it every week, so it definitely does happen and the amount of shopping given away varies as it’s completely random. I will just keep wishing for it every time I scan my Sparks card and maybe one day it might just happen!
Buy value products
M&S offer many everyday products at ‘remarksable’ prices such as half a dozen free range eggs for £1.25 or four pints of milk for £1.45. They are not Aldi prices but they are low and are kept low.
In fact, last summer, M&S dropped the price or price-locked over 200 products as part of their promise to offer customers the best possible quality at the best possible price.
You also find some really good prices on fruit and vegetables such as 70p for a head of broccoli or 50p for a bag of carrots, prices comparable to the cheaper supermarkets.
Look out for shelf edge barkers to identify price-locked products and if you want to find the fruit and veg on offer, it’s usually right at the entrance.
Shop M&S Meal Deals
Meal for two, pizza night, stir fry, family chicken dinner and fresh pasta dine-in offers are just a few examples of the meal deals available at M&S.
They offer great value for money and my particular favourite, the chicken feast dine-in deal, could get you all you need for a chicken dinner (one main including a whole chicken and three sides), for £10.
These meal deals offer great value and you can stretch them further by picking the pricier options, such as the whole chickens or steaks. And you don’t have to eat it all at once, so make use of the family meal deals even if you cook for just one. You can use up different components for different meals or even freeze some bits and use them at a later date.
You’ll find these great value meal deals on the end of the aisles and there always seems to be one or two available every time I shop at M&S.
Purchase multi-buy offers such as the “3 for £12” meat and fish
You can buy top quality meat and fish at M&S – but you pay for it. So this is a really good ongoing offer to pay less.
To get the most value out of the multi-buy offers, pick the products which are expensive at full-price such as salmon. The discount then brings the price down, sometimes to less than at other supermarkets. You can get this in-store and at Ocado.
Shop in the evening for yellow stickers
Although M&S reduces groceries in the morning, it is usually only by a nominal amount but the final reductions from an hour before closing, is when you will pick up amazing bargains.
Don’t forget you can freeze so much and many of their ready meals can be cooked from frozen. Read our guide to freezing food.
Check cashback apps
Cashback apps like Checkout Smart, Shopmium and Green Jin have cashback offers on products for most supermarkets and although M&S is listed on these apps, at the time of writing, only Green Jin had cashback offers available for M&S. You can find out more about cashback shopping apps here.
Consider the Marks and Spencer credit card
The M&S credit card gives you one point per £1 spent in M&S but it only offers one point per £5 spent elsewhere. Each point is worth a penny so it pays 1% on purchases at M&S but only 0.2% on purchases elsewhere. So in short, it could be decent if you regularly shop at Marks, but not a great return as a credit card on other spending..
There is often a welcome offer, and we’ve shared the latest one here.
Alternatively you could use a card that pays 1% at all retailers, not just M&S. Find out more about the best reward credit cards.
The M&S Club Rewards scheme is a paid add on to their credit card, but it’s best avoided for all but the most ardent M&S shopper. Here’s our guide to how it works
Pay with discounted gift cards
You can purchase M&S gift cards from sites like JamDoughnut, HyperJar and Cheddar and receive cashback. Here’s how they work. At the time of writing you could get 5% cashback with both JamDoughnut and Cheddar and 4.5% cashback with HyperJar.
Use Too Good to Go
Many M&S outlets at stations, hospitals and petrol station forecourts are on the food waste app TooGoodToGo. You could grab yourself a bag of surplus goodies worth more than £15 for less than £5.
Next time you’re rushing to catch a train, take a second to see if M&S is on the app and you could bag yourself a lovely M&S sarnie and more for a bargain price. Though you could also end up with some ready meals which you can’t really eat on a train!
Buy from Ocado
You can get lots of your M&S favourites delivered to your door from Ocado and if you combine your M&S groceries with other cheaper brands available on Ocado, such as their own-label, you could get a full grocery shop for a more reasonable price.
Most of the M&S offers are available on Ocado too like the meal deals and the multi-buys so you don’t have to go in-store to take advantage of these promotions.
Shop via a cashback site
You may not be able to shop with M&S directly for groceries using cashback apps, but Ocado shoppers can. Currently on Quidco, you can get 25% off your first shop with Ocado, free delivery and 7.5% cashback, and up to 7% cashback at TopCashback.
The cashback on both these sites is limited to a number of transactions, but it’s a great way to get M&S groceries and earn yourself some much appreciated cashback in the process. Here’s how to get up to £20 when you sign up.
So is M&S competitively priced compared to the UK’s other supermarkets?
Marks and Spencer made a bold statement back in 2020 that they were reducing many of their prices in their M&S Foodhalls to attract more family shoppers, as well as joining with Ocado to offer online shopping. The idea was to attract mainstream shoppers, rather than just being known for luxury products.
They still sell those higher end food and drink items and of course you can expect to pay more for them – though for many that quality is worth the extra cost.
But they are also competitively priced with lots of everyday products such as milk which is priced the same as all the other supermarkets and bread which is 75p and comes with the added benefit of being a source of vitamin D, as well as being the same price as Tesco standard sliced bread.
Other products like biscuits, crackers, eggs and breakfast cereals are all competitively priced and many identically priced to other UK supermarkets and it goes without saying, that the quality of M&S products is top notch.
Not everything is on par pricewise with other UK supermarkets and don’t forget M&S doesn’t have a big value range so you won’t find many staple products like rice and pasta as cheap.
So when it comes to shopping at M&S, you will have to check the prices before putting things in your basket as although some prices are competitively matched there are some areas where prices are still a lot higher than other supermarkets.