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

 ·9 Nov 2023

Makro remains the most affordable option for essential items among the top seven grocery retailers in South Africa as of 9 November 2023.

This is according to BusinessTech’s grocery basket comparison, which collected the online prices of nine staple foods and products from seven major retailers – Shoprite, Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar, Woolworths, Food Lover’s Market, 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
  • 9-pack of two-ply Baby Soft toilet paper (or store brand).

In some cases, store-brand alternatives are used because some stores only keep the store-brand versions of those items.

The comparison covers the various retailers in several areas within Gauteng. In almost all cases, it is possible to find any of these products at a lower price or to find cheaper alternatives, depending on location or time of the month.

According to our data, the average cost for our basket of nine staple items in November was R415, which is much cheaper than the last recorded month of July (R480).

Makro offered the cheapest basket in November 2023, totalling R369.76. This is R23.65 less than the second cheapest retailer – Shoprite (R393.41).

Woolworths had the most expensive basket at R438.91, which is R69.15 more than Makro. It must be noted that Spar is franchised, meaning prices and items can vary from store to store.

The table below gives the breakdown of prices for each item from the eight grocery retailers and who comes out as the cheapest.

ItemCheckersPick n PayWoolworthsSparShopriteMakroFood Lovers
White BreadR19.99R19.99R19.99R18.99R19.99R18.99R19.95
Sunflower oilR79.99R79.99R79.99R83.99R69.99R59.95R64.99*
Maize mealR34.99R35.99R38.99R36.99R35.99R29.95R36.99
White SugarR64.99R62.99R61.99R59.99R59.99R53.58R62.99
Toilet paperR79.99R96.99R96.99R94.99R79.99R77.45R79.95
Total R417.91R431.91R438.91R434.91R393.41R369.76R390.79
*Sunflower Oil was substituted with Canola oil.

The latest food basket data from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that oil and fat prices were generally the only foods to come down in price over the last year – while pantry essentials and vegetables continued to surge.

The basket comprises 44 food items that feature in the monthly shopping of the majority of South African households and gives an indication of real price shifts at a retail level in the country, even when compared to the official inflation rate.

Year-on-year inflation for the basked was at 10.6% – higher than food inflation tracked in Stats SA’s CPI, which came in at 8.1% in September. The PMBEJD’s year-on-year basket price difference was also 7.3% in August.

25 of the 44 items in the basket are still showing double-digit price jumps compared to a year ago, and 12 of these items are more than 20% higher. All of these high-increase food items are fruits, pantry essentials, and vegetables.

On the other side of the equation, five food items have actually come down in price – and two prices have remained relatively stable. Aside from cooking oil (-12%), the price reductions or stabilisations are for fats and meat.

Read: This is how much South Africans spend on movies, video games, streaming services and more

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