Supermarket prices go under microscope

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2008, 12:00am

Hundreds of housewives are gearing up to compare the prices of a range of daily necessities at two supermarket chains across the city every week, starting on Wednesday, and post the information on the internet.

Some 180 volunteers with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong will visit five Wellcome stores and five ParknShop stores in each of 18 districts every Wednesday. They will compare the prices of 10 basic items including packaged food, drinks, soy sauce and shampoo.

The prices will be uploaded to the DAB's website every Monday.

Ip Kwok-him, the party's vice-chairman, said: 'Recent high inflation has seriously affected people's living standards ... so we want to closely monitor the price changes to help consumers get a better deal.'

He said the party would launch the three-month pilot project at supermarkets because of their large market share. 'We will not rule out comparing prices of some items between supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies regularly in the future,' said Mr Ip.

The DAB might also change the items in the basket of goods later in the project, as necessary, he said.

Mr Ip said the current list excluded rice and cooking oil because they were often sold in bulk.

Besides uploading the prices on the Web, the project would consider posting them on notice boards in their citywide district councillors' offices, to get the message across.

A DAB survey in March this year found that prices for a range of 10 basic items cost an average of 11.8 per cent more in supermarket chains than in grocery stores.

Consumer Council chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing last month said it was planning to conduct price checks on essential items in various districts and shops every two weeks, and publish the findings online or via the media.

Currently, the council conducts a price survey every year.

Meanwhile, several Democratic Party members yesterday marched from the HSBC headquarters in Central to the Central Government Offices to urge the authorities to do more to help the underprivileged in view of rising prices. The party called on the government to subsidise the rents of low-income non-public housing residents, give more transport subsidies to the needy and set up more food banks.