Survey confirms groceries charge less

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am

Supermarkets ARE dearer: watchdog

The Consumer Council has confirmed prices of some essential goods have shot up in the past few weeks - and that supermarkets charge more for all of them than corner shops. In one case, a supermarket charged more than double. It also found evidence of hoarding.

The council carries out an annual price survey. It took 11 items for which prices rose by more than 10 per cent last year and compared their prices on March 27 and again on Monday at five supermarkets, three grocery stores and frozen meat shops and three pharmacies.

Over those 19 days, one supermarket had raised the price of a pack of three 900ml bottles of corn oil from HK$60.60 to HK$93.90, an increase of more than 50 per cent. Over the same period, one supermarket had raised the price of an 8kg bag of Thai rice from HK$67.90 to HK$74.50.

'Prices have increased between March 27 and April 14, it's a quite significant change and it's likely that prices will continue to go up,' a spokesman for the council, Ron Hui Shu-yuen, said.

The council also found the same packet of frozen shrimp dumplings, or har gau, cost HK$7.30 at a grocery but HK$14.90 at a supermarket. Chicken sausages cost 71 per cent more at one supermarket than at a grocery, and a bottle of light soy sauce 57 per cent more.

Fred Li Wah-ming, the Democratic Party's spokesman on consumer affairs, said people should take the time to compare prices in the shops and urged them to save money by shopping at wet markets.

Mr Hui said the council was concerned not just about the price of goods but their availability.

The council's check of stores on Monday showed some had run out of brands of Thai rice, canned luncheon meat and toothpaste in its survey.

Mr Hui said this showed people may have been stocking up on some items in the expectation prices would keep rising.

However, he said there were sufficient supplies of food and people had no need to rush to supermarkets to buy up stocks. If they caused shortages, prices could rise even more, he said.

The survey is not the first to find a difference in price between supermarkets and corner shops. Five weeks ago, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong checked the prices of 10 items in a supermarket and a store in each of the city's 18 districts.

It found supermarket chains charged an average of nearly 12 per cent more than grocery stores for this basket of goods.

High friers

The price of a pack of frozen shrimp dumplings varies widely

The excess of one supermarket's price over that of a grocery store is 104%