Very little surprises in the latest National Consumer Agency price survey. Unsurprisingly and most significantly, there’s a negligible price difference between the big four supermarkets.
- The cost of groceries has fallen by 14 per cent since January 2009 and the number of special offers has risen.
- The survey found almost no price difference on a basket of the same 103 branded goods between Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn. The basket was cheapest in Dunnes at €279.62, and most expensive in Superquinn at €280.76. Tesco charged €280.69.
- Unlike the other three, SuperValu does not operate a policy of national pricing. The survey also compared 87 branded goods from one of each Tesco, Dunnes, and Superquinn store and two SuperValu stores, one in Dublin North and one in Monaghan. Dunnes was the cheapest at €235.95, while SuperValu (north Dublin) was the most expensive at €241.70. SuperValu Monaghan worked out slightly cheaper at €237.79.
- The survey did not include Aldi or Lidl.
So, although prices have fallen, retailers are primarily competing on special offers and by juggling frequent but small price changes. But 81 per cent of consumers surveyed want to see more long-term lower prices instead of special offers.
Ann Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the NCA, says that the market needs new entrants to boost competition.
The survey, quite rightly, focuses entirely on prices. Not everybody, however, chooses their supermarket based entirely on price. The quality of fresh items, the choice of brands, the standard of customer service, and the layout of the supermarket are other important factors. Given that the price differences are negligible, Superquinn easily trumps Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco.
Tesco’s litany of crimes does not need to be repeated here, while I find it an unpleasant and frustrating place to shop. Superquinn, on the other hand, has consistently been the best place to pick up a bargain for the past six months or more. It’s very pleasantly laid out. Their fresh fruit, veg, bread, cakes, cheese, meat and fish easily trump their competitors. And they stock a really wide range of artisan products (as do many SuperValu stores).
So it’s official: Superquinn is my favourite place to shop, although I’ll stick to getting the bulk in Aldi or Lidl and some delicious, mouth-watering extras in Marks and Spencer.
Taking everything into account, what’s your favourite supermarket, and why?