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Which supermarket is cheapest? It depends when and what you are buying

27 January 2021 4:30 PM

ConsumerTalk consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says the 'basket of goods' comparison has a number of flaws.

This week's ConsumerTalk takes a closer look at a whole raft of grocery related issues including our own survey of a basket of goods that revealed some quite surprising results.

Everyone knows food prices have soared under lockdown, people have shifted their shopping habits significantly in the past year, and belts are being tightened all over the country as the impact of lockdown hits home, says presenter Pippa Hudson.

So to put it more simply, which supermarket is the cheapest Pippa asks Wendy.

The short answer, says Wendy Knowler, is it depends on a number of factors.

But what I do know for sure having done this consumer journalism thing for more than 20 years, is that supermarkets all use the same monitoring company to make sure that their prices are competitive.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer Journalist

She recounts how many years ago, the advertising standards authority at the time forced Checkers to stop advertising on their bright yellow carrier bags words to the effect of 'lowest prices always', because the actual price comparisons over time did not substantiate that claim.

So you are very unlikely to see that claim being made.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer Journalist

Prices for a particular item may be cheaper in a particular week, but a blanket claim to always be the cheapest is not going to fly, says Wendy.

So, to know which supermarket's basket of goods is cheapest, will depend on what you buy and when you buy it, explains Knowler.

Prices are incredibly volatile...it is very likely that as soon as you look at one supermarket and then get to the fourth one, the first one is not accurate anymore.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer Journalist

Another flaw she has experienced with the 'basket of goods' comparison exercise is that supermarkets complain about the methodology used.

I actually stopped doing it because it became so fraught with complaints from the supermarket groups saying we had got it wrong.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer Journalist

But price comparisons no longer need to be so laborious requiring trekking to each store because there are now shopping apps, says Knowler.

Take a listen to Wendy Knowler below:




27 January 2021 4:30 PM

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