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Grocery shop showdown

Which retailer offers the cheapest groceries?
Image: Bloomberg

A year on from the start of Covid-19, food and basic household items are becoming increasingly expensive in South Africa. 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.

Given that the pandemic has led to record job losses, and the uncertain future of Covid-19 benefits, it’s becoming essential to shop around and get the most bang for your hard-earned bucks.

More than 43% of our readers are in debt because of food, a startling statistic that we discovered in a survey we ran in November.

In light of this, JustMoney visited three Cape Town outlets representing large supermarket brands to compare the prices of 12 basic items such as milk, bread and potatoes. The same brand was purchased where possible, and in the same quantity.

These were the 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 cost R19.99, compared to R33.99 at Woolworths and R34.99 at Pick n Pay. JustMoney 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 JustMoney 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 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 JustMoney was friendly and patient.

The total pricing for the shop came in at R 442.34.

And the best discounts went to…

Pick n Pay Smart Shopper was the only reward card held by the shoppers, though they did note that 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.

Shopping around is important when buying your groceries. This may take time, but it will definitely save you money. Check sales ads and emailers, and go online to compare prices. If you decide to shop online, you must also take into account delivery costs.

Be sure to apply for loyalty cards, as these can save you thousands annually. Almost every shop has a rewards programme now, some of which accrue points every time you shop, while others secure discounts online or in store.

Sarah Nicholson, operations manager of personal finance website JustMoney.



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Nice article.

Wow!!! 20% difference between top and bottom. 20% is a huge number.

Seriously? You visited only 3 stores in Cape Town and compared 12 products and then write an article comparing three national retailers with each other. And then you come to conclusions as to who is the cheapest in SA and who offers the best shopping experience in SA…..

A bit of a useless article.

probably found she lived within 5km of all the jobs and was pressured into do a job… This article is only relevant for those people who live within the same block of her residence.

Having travelled extensively and shopped both online and physically in many towns and cities across the world, the price of products will be vastly differ in neighbourhoods even if it is the same branded shop. This is especially true when shopping online and your location is know. If you are perceived to live in a specific income area you will pay the price for living there.

A worthwhile article would have been to average cities and compare the retailers to themselves as well as the competition.

This is one of my favour calculators and i contribute to it as well.
Here i have compared Cape Town to both Joburg and Durban

So 20% price premium for ‘pleasant shopping experience”. And discounts are not really discounts if they are 12% above their competitors undiscounted prices.

Why did you not bother to go to Spar Sarah?

Or Food Lovers’ Market. It’s no surprise that the ticket price is less where there is less loyalty card cost to cover. Woolies and PnP also have Discovery Vitality cashbacks to factor in.

Sarah, the weighting of toilet paper in your grocery basket makes me worry about your food quality.

The problem with surveys is that they are in most cases skewed, nowhere does it say in the article that the milk for argument sake was the same brand in all stores survey, or that the nutritional value was consistent to all products on a like for like basis – for argument sake bread has a ranged weight and price is generally on its mass internally by the supplier JustMoney needs to set out the methodology of their survey and basis of comparison

The sample cannot be representative therefore not conclusive. We shopped at Woolworths for nearly all our groceries. During the last 18 months we now favour our local friendly corner shop, in Sun Valley/Noordhoek. We have found superior Bananas and superior Avocados at lower prices. The meat is better and at better prices. Such items as kidneys are a stock item when Woolworths tells us they do not stock these due to lack of demand. However, Woolworths is better for more selective items; milk, cheeses are two examples. Result: we shop selectively but the friendly corner shop now is favoured ration 70:30. Well done to the ‘little’ man.

The number of people in their shops even now is far more than covid 19 regulations specify.Our local branches of whichever retailer had to shut down a few times due to positive cases.
Also none of them except for one spar took temperature.

“Shopping around is important when buying your groceries. This may take time, but it will definitely save you money. Check sales ads and emailers, and go online to compare prices. If you decide to shop online, you must also take into account delivery costs.”

This is about the only thing one should glean from this article.

End of comments.





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