The coronavirus pandemic has put huge strain on individual budgets as families face retrenchments, and job cuts.

It’s even more important now for moms to manage their grocery budgets carefully. Everyone is on the lookout for specials, and quality products at affordable prices.

Research by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows that the average cost of a Household Food Basket in February 2021 was R4001,17. This was a welcome decrease of around R50 per month between January and February this year.

“The month-on-month decrease in the basket between January 2021 and February 2021 of R50,03 must be seen against the December 2020 to January 2021 increase of R48,78,” noted Mervyn Abrahams, Programme Coordinator at PMBEJD.

The organisation’s Household Affordability Index tracks food price data from 44 supermarkets and 30 butcheries, in Johannesburg (Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa and Hillbrow), Durban (KwaMashu, Umlazi, Isipingo, Durban CBD and Mtubatuba), Cape Town (Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi, Delft and Dunoon), Pietermaritzburg and Springbok (in the Northern Cape).

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“We expect the decrease in the cost of a household food basket in February 2021 to be short-lived, whilst cautioning that higher fuel prices and electricity prices, are likely to push food prices upwards in the near future, warned Abrahams.

JustMoney conducts comparison

The skyrocketing prices of groceries prompted personal finance website JustMoney to do their own comparison between three popular retailers.

Sarah Nicholson, operations manager of 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:

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.

“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.”


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