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Cheapest retailer for groceries in South Africa right now – Woolies vs Pick n Pay vs Checkers and more

| Economic factors

Makro remains the most affordable option for essential items among the top eight grocery retailers in South Africa for a fourth consecutive month as of 31 July 2023.

This is according to The Outlier’s monthly grocery basket comparison, which collected the prices of 12 staple foods and products near the end of each month from eight major retailers – Shoprite, Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar, Food Lover’s Market, Woolworths, Boxer, and Makro.

The grocery basket comparison now includes:

  • 700g loaf of Albany Superior sliced white bread, or store brand
  • 2-litre sunflower oil (cheapest option)
  • 2.5kg Iwisa maize meal
  • 2.5kg Selati white sugar
  • 2-litre milk (cheapest option)
  • 2kg Tastic rice
  • 2.5kg Snowflake cake flour
  • 175g bar of Dettol herbal soap
  • 500g Fatti’s & Moni’s spaghetti, or store brand
  • 400g smooth Black Cat peanut butter
  • 1kg Jungle Oats
  • 100 Joko tagless teabags

The Outlier also noted that, in some cases, store brand alternatives are used because some stores only keep the store brand versions of those items. Additionally, when some items aren’t available in-store, the online price is considered. The comparison covers the various retailers in several areas within Gauteng.

It added that in almost all cases, it is possible to find any of these products at a cheaper price or to find cheaper alternatives, depending on location or time of the month.

According to the data, The average cost for our basket of 12 staple items in July was R480, which is slightly cheaper than last month (R483.20).

Makro offered the cheapest basket in July 2023, totalling R426.90. This is R38.98 less than the second cheapest retailer – Shoprite (R465.88).

Woolworths had the most expensive basket at R510.88, the only retailer to total over R500, and is R84 more than Makro. It must be noted that Spar is franchised, meaning prices and items can vary from store to store.

The infographic shows the total basket price comparison of the eight grocery retailers and who comes out as the cheapest.

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Reasons for price fluctuations

In July, there was an R84 difference between the cheapest and most expensive baskets, whereas, in June, the difference was R54.89, so the research platform looked into why this is the case.

The table below shows the month-on-month basket price differences compared to June 2023.

RetailerJune priceJuly priceChange
Makro R450.99 R426.90 -R24.09
Checkers R504.88 R495.88 -R9.00
Pick n Pay R505.88 R497.88 -R8.00
Fodd Lovers R474.30 R467.30 -R7.00
Shoprite R463.88 R465.88 +R2.00
Boxer R478.88 R483.88 +R5.00
Woolworths R502.88 R510.88 +R8.00
Spar R483.88 R497.88 +R14.00

According to The Outlier, the two biggest fluctuations where seen at Makro and Spar. Makro’s basket price decreased by a substantial R24.09, and Spar’s increased by R14.

The research platform noted that a main contributor to these price changes is oil. The price of sunflower oil at Makro in July was R15 cheaper than it was in June. At Woolworths, sunflower oil increased by R7, which accounts for the R8 increase in the overall basket price.

For Spar, the culprit was cake flour, which was R39.99 in June and had risen to R49.99 in July 2023.

The price difference across brands of two other basic items – sugar and maize meal – also tell their own story, The Outlier said.

The cheapest 2.5kg packet of white sugar we found was Food Lover’s Market’s store brand, which cost R44.99. This was followed by a packet of Hullets-branded sugar at Woolworths for R53.99. 

In contrast, a 2.5kg packet of Shibobo maize meal at Boxer was R31.99, which was the cheapest brand at the eight stores compared. Pick n Pay’s Pride maize meal was the priciest at R49.99, which was R18 more expensive than Boxer’s.

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