Which is the cheapest supermarket chain?
It's an important question, when you consider how much money you spend on groceries during a year.
To find out the answer we sent shadow shoppers to purchase a basket of 33 specific items from 111 supermarkets around the country.
Of the majors, Coles was the cheapest chain with the basket of goods costing $97.47. Its stores had 10 of our 33 items on sale during the survey, which took place on the randomly selected dates of 14 and 15 March. At Woolworths which had only two or three items on sale, the basket came in at $105.43 - 8% more than Coles.
However, when the items on special were removed from the basket, the difference in price between the two major supermarket chains dropped from 8% to 3% in favour of Coles.
The basket included 28 branded products and five staples. Meat, and fresh fruit and vegetables were not included.
In the eastern states, the discount supermarket chain Aldi was the cheapest place to shop with the equivalent basket of goods costing only $55.70.
Since we last surveyed supermarket prices in 2003, the price of the basket has gone up 13% on average at Woolworths, and 11% at Coles – excluding specials.
The cheapest city to buy your groceries in was Rockhampton in Queensland with an average basket price of $99.59. This knocks Newcastle, NSW, from the position it has held for the last nine CHOICE supermarket surveys.
Queensland was the cheapest state, followed by South Australia, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. The most expensive state was Tasmania, followed by Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
What you'll get in this report:
- Price changes in basket items since 2003. Some prices have increased by more than 40%.
- Average basket prices in each state.
- Cheapest cities in 2007, compared to 2003.
You'll also get basket prices for 111 supermarkets across Australia, including:
- ACT: Canberra
- QLD: Brisbane, Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Townsville
- NSW: Central Coast, Dubbo, Forster, Newcastle, Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong
- NT: Darwin
- SA: Adelaide, Mt Gamber
- TAS: Hobart, Launceston
- VIC: Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne, Wodonga
- WA: Albany, Perth
Please note: this information was current as of July 2007 but is still a useful guide today.
How we surveyed
36 shadow shoppers were asked to price items from CHOICE's shopping list. Each shopper was sent to between two and six supermarkets.
The survey included 33 products, including 28 brand-name items and five non-branded staples. Where possible (in 24 cases), the items in the basket were kept the same as in the 2003 basket so a comparison could be made. The cheapest available staples were chosen. No fresh vegetables, fruit or meat products were surveyed, due to variations in availability and condition of the produce.
In total, our shadow shoppers visited 111 supermarkets in 23 cities. These included Coles, Woolworths/Safeway, IGA and one Aldi store (as Aldi maintains a single-price policy across its stores). We gave supermarkets no warning of the survey, so they wouldn’t have time to change their prices.
Supermarkets were chosen in clusters of approximately 2 km so they’d be more likely to be competing with each other. Independent supermarkets were included if they were within 5 km of another supermarket.
To determine whether basket prices had increased or decreased since 2003, the prices of the 24 products that are comparable between this year’s survey and the 2003 survey were analysed.