Asda offers shoppers a price guarantee

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Asda is to refund customers who find their groceries cheaper elsewhere in an apparent escalation of the supermarket price wars.

The retailer launched an internet-based system today allowing customers to check their grocery receipts against its competitors and offering to repay any difference in the form of a voucher.

The scheme is similar to the Never Knowingly Undersold motto used by the John Lewis department store, which dates back to 1925.

It follows a series of price-matching guarantees among the supermarket chains as consumers struggle in the recession.

Asda said its guarantee was permanent and would cover about 70% of groceries, with 10% of items left out because they were unique to Asda and another 20% eliminated due to trading standards regulations relating to differences in pack sizes.

Items such as electrical equipment, DVDs or clothing would not be included.

Asda chief executive Andy Bond said: "From today Asda cannot and will not be beaten on price. Our grocery guarantee puts an end to the phoney price wars that most shoppers are sick of."

Morrisons group trading director Martyn Jones said: "We believe that it is not achievable to ever fully price-match us and that anyone could at best only match a third of our prices, as we don't publish our prices online.

"We would also question the ability to be accurate about an online price-matching claim or to try to match the quality, value and service that we provide.

"Rather than relying on stunts to attract shoppers, we give customers all-round great value with exciting, deep-cut offers which benefit more shoppers, more often."