How to win the ckeckout battle

TWEED shoppers can save just over $10 if they shop-around for the best deal at major supermarkets, an exclusive Tweed Daily News survey revealed yesterday. The survey which compared the price of buying nine basic food items at selected Coles, Woolworths and Aldi supermarkets on the Tweed found that substantial savings can be made even between different outlets of the same chain, if you shop around.

With a grocery list including the cheapest items available at each supermarket, and including everyday items like milk, bread, fruit, vegetables and meat, the cheapest supermarket was Coles at Tweed City where the basket of goods cost $27.59, while the dearest was Murwillumbah IGA where the shop came to $37.99.

The survey -- that took in both Coles and Woolworths supermarkets at Tweed City, Woolworths at Kingscliff as well as Coles and IGA in Murwillumbah -- found that Coles supermarkets offered better value-for-money over the more expensive Woolworths, with the basket of goods costing $4.99 less at Tweed City Coles than at Kingscliff Woolworths, or $4.17 less than Tweed City Woolworths.

Even shopping in different areas can save a few dollars in budgets strained by increasing interest rates, petrol, food and basic living expenses, with the shopping list costing $1.50 less to buy at Coles Tweed City than at Murwillumbah.

There was less than one dollar difference between the cost of purchasing the items at Woolworths Tweed City and Kingscliff.

German supermarket chain Aldi, located in Machinery Drive, Tweed Heads South, would have been the cheapest place to shop, but their inexpensive meat deals are only for bulk purchase which pushed the real price of the shop up from $25.90 for a comparable list, to $30.53.

The basket of goods at Aldi also included a larger jar of Australia's favourite spread, Vegemite, which is only sold by the supermarket chain in 235 gram jars.

Grocery prices have been under the spotlight in recent weeks with competition watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission leading an inquiry into supermarket pricing and how the big players Coles and Woolworths as well as the big food producers, use their market dominance to make huge profits.

It also follows warnings from the Australian Retailers Association that consumers can expect to pay more for grocery items because of the escalating cost of petrol. But all is not lost for the shopper needing to find a few spare dollars from somewhere.

Coles chief executive officer Mick McMahon, who confirmed one in every four grocery items purchased in Australia are bought from Coles, told the ACCC inquiry this week that increased competition is key to bigger savings at the checkout.

"That's why we make sure we are competitive at a local level because at the end of the day, our customers are making choices at a local level and they're comparing prices not just against Woolworths but they're comparing them against Aldi and IGA," Mr McMahon said.

IGA is the third biggest player in the Australian supermarket industry, and has the buying power with everyday grocery items to compete with prices offered by Coles, Woolworths and the bulk-item style of shopping at Aldi, according to the new owner of Murwillumbah IGA, Brett Bugg.

"Like any independent supermarket, the bigger the amounts we can buy the better price we can get to pass on to our customers," Mr Bugg said, who took over the supermarket, formally known as Singh's IGA, last month.

"We can also buy fresh produce locally, which gives us an advantage over Coles and Woolworths as we can get better prices. We also have loyal customers, because a lot of the local growers will shop with us because we support them."

Standardised pricing across the state is an aim of Woolworths, according to a spokesperson for the supermarket giant.

"Previously we had over 50 different pricing groups, and now we are working towards a single, or state-wide pricing group," the spokesperson said, explaining Tweed stores are stocked from a Brisbane-based warehouse.

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