Supermarkets not so super with their prices

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2008, 12:00am

A canned fish variety is nearly 70 per cent more expensive in a supermarket than a grocery store in Wan Chai, the Consumer Council has found in its first fortnightly study of prices.

Focusing on one district, the price check compares daily necessities in major supermarkets, small chains and grocery stores, as well as personal care chains.

'The primary goal is to enhance price transparency in the marketplace in times of inflation and to provide consumers with price indications in shopping,' the watchdog said.

The first price check surveyed 15 items collected from 13 outlets in Wan Chai yesterday. Price differences ranged from 1.7 per cent to 65.8 per cent.

It showed that supermarket chains were charging more than small grocery and drugstores for most items.

The most noticeable difference was in the case of a popular brand of canned fried dace with salted black beans. It cost HK$19.90 at one supermarket - HK$7.90 more than from a grocery store nearby.

'This price differential between the highest and the lowest represents a significant HK$7.90, or 65.8 per cent, saving for a hard-pressed household budget in times of inflation,' the council said.

The survey also highlighted the price difference of a packet of rice vermicelli, selling for HK$7.40 at a supermarket chain, which was nearly 50 per cent higher than the same items at a frozen food store.

However, lower prices are possible at supermarkets, especially when buying in bulk or reduced items.

The council praised one supermarket's buy-two-get-one-free promotion for chicken broth.

'The survey clearly shows that by shopping around and comparing prices, consumers intent on beating inflation can achieve savings in the purchase of daily necessities,' the council added.

In March, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong checked the prices of 10 items in a supermarket and store in each of the city's 18 districts.

It found supermarkets charged an average of nearly 12 per cent more than grocery stores for the basket of goods.

The council lists the price comparison on