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.
Sarah Nicholson, operations manager of personal finance website JustMoney, says: "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:
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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.
READ MORE: Make rewards programmes work for you
"Shopping around is important when buying your groceries," says Nicholson. "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."