Second GROCERYchoice survey released – gap narrows between Coles, Woolies and Independents

Posted by James Ferre on 3rd September 2008

The second GROCERYchoice data has been posted on the GROCERYchoice website, www.grocerychoice.gov.au, with the gap between Coles, Woolworths and independents narrowing, according to the ACCC.

The latest survey shows that, on a total grocery basket, Coles supermarkets are the cheapest in 40 of the 61 regions surveyed. This compares with 52 of 61 regions in the inaugural GROCERYchoice survey. On prices for a basic staples basket Coles also came out comfortably ahead of their primary rival this month, with a lower basic staples basket price in 36 of the 61 regions. This represented a major shift, as Coles trailed Woolworths by 49 to 12 in the last survey.

The basket prices represent the average price for a retailer within a specified region, not the price for a specific individual supermarket outlet.

Prices are calculated for the following grocery baskets: meat and seafood; fruit and vegetables; dairy; breads and cereals; drinks and other snacks; general groceries; household and personal care.

The price of a basic staples basket is also calculated. This includes a range of staple products from the other baskets. As a result of ALDI’s smaller product range, this is the only basket that lists an ALDI supermarket’s price and the German discount retailer remained the cheapest for a basic staples basket.

The baskets include 500 products typically bought by Australian households, including branded and private label products. To stop survey manipulation, the individual product list for each supermarket retailer remains confidential and products included are rotated.

The site has come in for heavy criticism over recent weeks with claims that the site does not provide enough timely information for consumers and concerns raised that it may harm competition due to promotion of Coles and Woolworths typically being cheaper for a total grocery basket than independents. The grouping of all independents together has also been considered an issue with the site.

In a statement, the ACCC advised that the site was merely a guide and other factors needed to be considered by consumers when purchasing groceries. “GROCERYchoice collects information about grocery prices alone,” the ACCC advised. “Consumers can take this information into account with a range of other important factors when determining where to shop, including the location and accessibility of supermarkets to them, the quality of fresh produce, the product and produce range, and their assessment of the quality of service.”