Supermarkets are making it harder for you to compare the value and cost of different items – so we’ve put together a guide to put you back in control and get a better deal.
Across grocery stores in Australia, shoppers are spoilt for choice. For almost any product in the grocery aisle, there is plenty of variety on offer. However, this increased choice can lead to confusion when you’re trying to get the best deal.
In theory, unit pricing should help compare similar items. Introduced in 2009, it forced grocery stores to display the price/unit of most items. For example, when there are two products being sold in different volumes, a price per 100mL can help you decide between two items.
However, the system isn’t perfect:
– For starters, we’re all being forced to read the fine print on the label. The unit price is getting harder to find and what’s more is often obscured by sale and promotional stickers. Also, in some cases, the unit price is not even shown!
– Comparing two products side by side doesn’t take long, but trying to compare 3 or more products from different shelves quickly gets taxing. And who has the time to compare more than a few items per shopping trip?
– Supermarkets are being inconsistent with labelling – having a product with pricing per box next to a similar item with price / weight.
The government and consumer advocacy groups such as Choice are aware of these issues, and the system of unit pricing is currently under review. If you would like to add your voice to the debate, signup here.
In the meantime, follow these tips:
• For produce, compare the price of loose versus pre-packaged items carefully. There are significant savings to be had, but no rule as to which is better, it just varies from one product to the next.
• Don’t forget to shop for substitutes and alternatives for the products you are comparing and check their unit prices at the same time.
• Don’t assume that large packs automatically have lower unit prices – sometimes the smaller packs are on a special offer and hence cheaper.
Shop online where possible. The larger chains such as Coles and Woolworths display unit pricing in their online stores.
• Check weekly specials before you shop. The major supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have mobile apps which list the weekly specials so you know what to look out for before you shop. The Coles app will even guide you to the correct aisle for the products selected if you enter the store location.