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Supermarket tricks and traps

By ninemsn staff
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Air date: Monday, May 26, 2008
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Supermarket prices can vary within the same chain of stores locally.

Think you'll pay the same prices between stores at the same supermarket chain in your area? Think again.

Craig Kelly is from the Southern Sydney Retailers Association. He's taken our cameras undercover to show us how unsuspecting shoppers are being charged too much for their fruit and vegetables.

"I bought this basket of fruit and veg from Woolworths at Liverpool for $33 - a few kilometres up the road at Woolworths Moorebank the same goods are $63. That's eighty percent extra in cost," he said.

It's the same supermarket chain and the same area of Sydney but outrageously different prices.

"How should shoppers feels about this," Craig said.

"Shoppers should feel outraged about these higher prices. The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has dropped the ball - and simply doesn't know what is going on in the market," he said.

To show you just how close these two supermarkets are to each other it's just four and a half kilometres between the Woolworths stores at Liverpool and Moorebank.

Buy your fruit and veges from Moorebank and you could be paying twice as much. Craig Kelly found butternut pumpkin at Liverpool for 98 cents a kilo. At Moorebank it is $2.98 a kilo.

"That's two hundred percent higher in price," he said.

According to Craig Kelly's survey rockmelons were $2.98 at the Liverpool Woolies and $5.98 at Moorebank.

Green capsicums were $1.99 a kilo at Liverpool and $4.98 a kilo at Moorebank. Red Delicious apples were $2.48/kg Liverpool and $4.98/kg at Moorebank.

This could be the reason why there's such a difference in price.

Outside the Liverpool Woolies a new independent green grocer has opened for business.

Fiona Lippey from simplesavings.com.au says competition forces supermarkets to drop their prices.

"One store has a competitor - the other doesn't so the one without a competitor has a monopoly and can they can push their prices up," she said.

Previously A Current Affair has reported on price differences between supermarkets.

We've found that more affluent suburbs around Australia are charged more for their groceries. We also found that wherever there's an Aldi store prices in the nearby Coles and Woolies go down.

Fiona Lippey says it's worth driving for a saving.

"It's very worthwhile travelling a little bit extra to get that discount because what may seem like a small discount - just one dollar on one item - go through that whole shop and you've got fifty bucks. Fifty bucks to drive five minutes makes sense," she said.

"Shoppers should get smarter (and) get the best deals. Say 'I'm not taking this anymore, I want the best price always , keep it consistent - give me good value every time'."

Peter Applebaum from Tick Yes Marketing has been working with supermarkets for 20 years and says there could be many reasons why prices are different at the same supermarket chains.

"We shouldn't be shocked and horrified if a supermarket charges 200 percent more than the other supermarket that's five kilometres away - it's basically, do your own homework and make your own decision," he said.

"Maybe the quality is twice as good in one supermarket compared to the other - it shouldn't be, but maybe it is. We have the power to make the decisions whether we want to shop there or not - and quite frankly, if we vote with our feet and their sales are dropping - they'll make changes," he said.

To maximise your savings try Fiona Lippey's Simple Saving tips for the supermarket:

1. Never shop while hungry: When you are hungry every item seems essential.
2. Ignore fancy packages: The prettier the package the higher the cost.
3. Stick to the basics: If you learn to cook you will never need to buy 90 percent of items in the supermarket.
4. Track down the best value shop: Working out the cheapest store will save you a lot of money in the long run.
5. Check price tags: Make sure you are getting the best price.
6. Be prepared: Always use a list.
7. Avoid semi prepared food: Don't pay for other people to cook your food for you.
8. Re-package your goods: It pays to buy in bulk and then switch produce to smaller containers.
9. Be flexible: Go with the brand on special rather than the brand you are used to eating.
10. Stick to your budget: Work out how much money you can afford to spend and stick to that amount.

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