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Battle of SA’s biggest supermarkets: Who has the cheapest groceries?

When it came to the shopping experience, Woolworths took first prize. Photo: Supplied

When it came to the shopping experience, Woolworths took first prize. Photo: Supplied

Published Mar 18, 2021


It’s been a year since Covid-19 hit, and finance website JustMoney decided to compare the prices of basic grocery items across three of the country’s major supermarkets, namely: Checkers, Pick n Pay and Woolworths.

Food and basic household items are becoming increasingly expensive in South Africa. Statistics reveal that groceries and non-alcoholic beverages are some of the biggest contributors to inflation and, worryingly, there have even been steep hikes in staples like bread, rice, fruit and vegetables over the past year.

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The website compares the costs of basic household items and gives advice on getting the most value for your budget. The twelve items it selected were toilet paper, washing powder, rice, tea bags, potatoes, chicken pieces, baked beans, Coke, sugar, milk, bread and bananas.

Below are their findings:

Checkers offers the lowest prices

Checkers came out tops for pricing and offered excellent value for potatoes and toilet paper in particular. A 2kg bag of potatoes costs R19.99, compared to R33.99 at Woolworths and R34.99 at Pick n Pay. They paid R59.99 for nine Baby Soft 2-ply toilet paper rolls at Checkers and R69.99 at Pick n Pay. The same brand was not available at Woolworths, so they opted for another brand which cost R62.99. In total, the team spent R368.71 at Checkers.

Woolworths gave the best shopping experience

When it came to the shopping experience, Woolworths took first prize. The store was clean and the lighting was good. Even though the store was quite small, the till queue was well organised and the social distancing rules were carefully observed. The teller who served them was friendly and patient. The total pricing for the shop came in at R442.34.

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And the best discounts went to Pick n Pay

Pick n Pay Smart Shopper was the only reward card held by the shoppers, though they did note there were no rewards offered on their purchased items at the other stores. Using this rewards card, they saved R16.00 on the bill. Without it, the total spend would have been R427.99. The purchases also increased the shoppers’ loyalty points by R2.13.

The Smart Shopper programme offers one point for every R2 you spend when you swipe your card. At Woolworths and Checkers, various discounts are offered as marked on the shelves.

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With consumer inflation, it may be time we start taking a closer look at our grocery bill at the end of each month, says scientist and avid personal finance blogger, Dr. Kyle O'Hagan.

He shares the below shopping hacks for saving on your groceries.

Set up a meal plan

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I often find that, after a long and tiring day at work, the last thing I feel like doing is heading to the store, deciding what to make for dinner and then still having to actually cook it. I end up resorting to take-out or buying some form of convenience food that often comes with a much heftier price tag. Decide on a few different recipes you’ve been dying to make. Do a once-off weekly shop for ingredients. And then block off some time on your calendar to prepare as much as you can for the following week.

No off-list shopping

A shopping list is there for a reason – to remind you of what you need to buy. Too often, we do aisle shopping – a leisurely browse for what we think are no-brainer specials that we can’t afford to miss. But we neglect to remember that grocery stores are marketing maniacs. They know exactly how to appeal to and manipulate your emotions.

Don’t shop hungry

A rumbling tummy is the kryptonite of saving money on groceries. You walk into the store with your shopping list with the sole intention of sticking to it. But your senses are soon overwhelmed. The smell of freshly baked bread. The allure of the snack-centric checkout aisle. You find yourself lingering too long in the ice-cream section.

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