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Price comparisons: Tesco vs. Donnybrook Fair

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Donnybrook Fair, Stillorgan

I might be missing something here. Over the past few years, luxury expensive food shop Donnybrook Fair has been popping up all over wealthy Dublin suburbs. Most recently, they’ve appeared up in Stillorgan shopping centre, right beside Tesco (on a side note, I wonder what Stillorgan’s anchor tenant thinks of its new neighbour).

It doesn’t seem like the most ridiculous location for Donnybrook Fair. First, the two shops ostensibly appeal to different demographics. Second, some people might pick up most of the groceries in Tesco and get a few more in Donnybrook Fair.

But look closer.

Here’s some price comparisons, carried out on Friday July 29 between 1pm-2pm. I’ve mostly stuck to basics like bread, butter, jam, milk, and tea.*

Donnybrook Fair (Stillorgan SC)Tesco (Stillorgan SC)
Celery€1.59€0.59
Pineapple**€3.99€2.79
Bananas€1.89 per kg€1.25 per kg
Kelkin Granola€6.99€3.29
Brennan’s white sliced pan€1.89€1.58
Kerrygold butter (454g)€3.39€2.95
Avonmore Supermilk€1.65€1.44
John West tuna (sunflower oil)€2.29€2.09
Lyons teabags (80’s)€4.48€3.19
Bonne Maman raspberry jam€3.99€2.99
TOTAL€32.15€22.16

*Yes, of course Donnybrook Fair, an independent retailer without the buying clout of transnational corporation Tesco, is going to cost more, and it’s great to support the smaller, more innovative guy if you can afford it. Yes, their fresher food is better quality. Yes, their bananas might be nicer, if you can afford them.

**Pineapple in Donnybrook Fair was larger

There’s a few conclusions you could make. Either some DF shoppers are happy to pay significantly above the odds for a product they could get next door, or they’ve too much money to think it through. Certainly, judging by the very crude stereotype of the number of people hopping into BMW SUVs with DF bags, there’s still plenty of money in Ireland.

Maybe DF is hoping they won’t want to go and queue in Tesco so they’ll just get the the damned butter here – but with unemployment high food prices rising, people are shopping around more and checking the bargains.

Of course, Donnybrook Fair is more about the fresh food products you can’t get in Tesco: the quality meals to take home, the fine cheeses, cereals that aren’t manufactured by Kellogg’s and Nestle, Tyrell’s crisps, excellent meats and so on. But even their ready meals are beyond what I’d be willing to pay: €8.99 for spinach and ricotta tortellini (600g), €9.99 for pesto baked chicken, and €7.25 for lasagna. Maybe they’re extraordinary ready meals and worth every cent, but I can’t afford to find out.

However! They do stock some very exceptional products. On my fact-finding mission, I treated myself to a bag of high-quality ground coffee. Paddy and Scott’s coffee, even though it cost €5.67 for 227g, is really special and worth every cent.  ”Great With Friends”, one of their slightly gimmicky “Time of Day” brands is extraordinary: chocolate and caramel flavours without too much sweetness or vanilla. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves or even hates coffee.

In conclusion on Donnybrook Fair: a great place for the occasional treat and a more pleasant layout than most garishly lit supermarkets, but cheap eat it is not.

Have you shopped in Donybrook Fair? Is it an occasional treat, your main supermarket, or a vacuum cleaner for rich, overindulgent wallets?

15 Comments

  1. While I agree with your point about independent retailers, a €10 price difference in that basket is CRAZY! I couldn’t justify buying the basics in DF, that said, they’re deli is lovely and it’s great for treats, I love their bakery(much tastier than the ubiquitous bland Cuisine De France), they have good selection of artisan foods that you mightn’t find elsewhere, and you know they’re going to be pricier anyway. They’re ready meals are hit and miss and, at those prices, I don’t think they’re worth it at all. I once saw a lady in an offensively huge SUV at the original DF bringing two trolleys of shopping out to fill up her gas guzzler… she must be richer than the queen.

  2. Their ready meals. Not they’re. *scarleh’.

  3. Probably worth pointing out that tesco in stillorgan is the worst tesco I have ever been in, The meat is brown a lot of the time and theri fresh veg is very rarely fresh

  4. aaaaaah, 6.99 for Kelkin Granola (feeling faint….). I guess that if you have enough money not to worry about budgeting, etc, then why not? I also find that Donnybrook’s Fair sometimes have extra luxury items at keen prices, so you could do the bulk of your shopping in Tesco and buy more glamourous things at DF. For instance, a home made scone is around a euro, still cheaper than in most cafés. Or they have special offers that are quite attractive. I once bought a slice of artisan goat cheese (can’t remember the name) for less than some plastic cheddar at Tesco. And a falafel salad with hummus and sundried tomatoes for 3.95, it was great value and so much nicer than a sandwich.
    Now, when I see people pushing around trolleys filled with paper rolls and Avonmore milk, I somehow find it indecent. Or just plain ridiculous

  5. I wondered the same thing when I saw DF was opening there… Went in looking for a nice(r) coffee cake for a friend, the sales guy didn’t even know what it was and offered me a coffee cheese cake instead. I gave up on the cake and bought some olives “just because I was there” and immediately regretted it: damn expensive and to be honest, just olives…
    I love deli’s, so for me DF is a trap… I’ll try to stay clear!

  6. similarly in Greystones they’re right beside Tesco and I occassionally go in intending to get some nice cheese or some other treat.

    Half the time I baulk at the prices though and end up going to tesco anyway. I’m impressed that they’re able to keep going and even expand the company in the midst of this recession – some people are obviously still partying.

  7. In a way, opening a very expensive shop at the height of a recession is a bit like eating a feast in front of starving children. Bound to anger and make people feel even more depressed. However, one needs to realise that there will always be wealthy people in this country, and it’s better they spend their money here than abroad. At least the shop creates more jobs

  8. There’s a Lidl opening across the road and an Aldi in Sandyford, should make things interesting :)

    I shop in DF for treats sometimes – a selection of cheeses and a chutney for OH’s birthday, this type of thing. I’d never use them for basics because of the markup.

  9. Aldi in Sandyford? About time!

  10. I agree with gary, Tesco in Stillorgan is the worst supermarket around. I live close by and never do my shopping there. I’ve been to DF in Stillorgan once and DF in Donnybrook on a number of occasions. To be honest, I find it quite pretentious. I don’t think the ready meals are all that great, the salads are terrible and overpriced. The Donnybrook store can be good for the odd gluten free treat but again, I pay through the nose.

    To me, supporting independent retailers means going to the local fruit & veg grocer. Not the pretentious, ovrpriced, overrated “deli”.

  11. It’s a bit of a rich bashing article as much as a store comparison. They are in a niche market who’s target demographic does not worry about the cost of basics, and probably cooks once a week or less. Agreed, items like tea bags are bad value for the same thing, but the fresh produce seems to be more worth it. No point dwelling on begrudgery, it’s better to find the value you want and move on.

  12. I don’t know where you got the “rich bashing” from at all Jon. You clearly don’t understand the concept of cheapeats, not all of us have the time to work out price comparisons so it’s great to come here and find out where we can and can’t find good deals. No-one is begrudging the wealthy. I know a few wealthy people, if anyone hates being ripped off, it’s them.

  13. I think that Lidl is as good if not better than a lot of local deli’s. Their selection of cheeses are very good and one can afford to try new ones because they are not prohibitively priced. Their olives and roasted peppers are great value and can be an everyday treat rather than a once now and again. Bit worried about how much money stays in the country but must cut cloth to measure!!

  14. Would have to agree that Tesco Stillorgan is the worst supermarket area…..items are frequently out of date, their fruit / veg are grimey and I wouldnt buy my meat there – place is old and dingy and should be replaced. That said, DF is great for the occasional treat, their Pate behind the deli counter is gorgeous and their salads (albeit expensive) are a nice (if rare) treat….certainly wouldnt be doing my ‘big shop’ there but great to have in the area.

  15. I think Donnybrook Fair is a bit like Fallon & Byrnes, ok for an occasional treat but not as a day to day shop.

    If someone can afford to do their regular shopping there then good luck to them,

    Re the cheeses at Lidl, I think they are great and agree that the price means you can try a different variety for a resonable price, I love the one that has the dried apricots in it.

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