Do you notice a price difference between what you pay at your supermarket’s ‘mini me’ vs its bigger sibling? It’s a little bug bear of mine and an issue Channel 4 Dispatches explored tonight…
As some of you may know from my previous posts, I’ve been shopping at my local independent stores for a while because I find it cheaper than shopping in supermarkets. I have to be pretty well planned to manage my food this way and do my best to avoid the temptation to pick something up at a mini supermarket – particularly when I’ve run out of my five-a-day.
Tonight’s Dispatches documentary explored the price difference between shopping at a supermarket’s local store and one of its bigger branches. While there may be justified reasons for higher prices in convenience stores (higher rents per square metre and more complex distribution) I think it strengthens our call for unit pricing to be clear and consistent.
Buying loose or by the bag?
The unit price is the price by weight or volume that lets you compare the true cost of products, even if they come in different sizes. For instance, a bag of three mixed peppers may be 55p each or three loose peppers at £1.35 per kilogram.
Now, if both lots of pepper had a clear unit price – ie the price per kilogram – the unit price would do the maths for you and you’d be able to pick the bunch that offered the best deal.
Food prices are a big concern for shoppers. Which? research shows that three quarters of people are worried about rising food prices, and more than half compare prices now more than ever when out shopping for food.
Shouldn’t it be straightforward for us to compare the price of food based on the amount we want to buy? At the moment, it’s harder than it should be for shoppers to make informed choices because this information isn’t always consistent or easy to see. We’re working to change the law to make it easier.
Not so special offers
One of these changes includes calling for unit prices to be displayed on products which are on offer – an area currently exempt from the law. And we can easily be lured into special offers, whether we’re in a convenience store or larger supermarket. As commenter Fill told us on a previous Convo, these special offers aren’t always what we bargained for:
‘The other great thing about unit pricing is it sometimes shows the irony of a special offer or multibuy still not being cheaper than some other pack size.’
So, do you use convenience stores when you’ve run out of basics? Are you tempted to pick up more than you bargained for? How do you keep the fruit and veg bowl full when you’re midway through a week’s shop?