Cheapest retailer for groceries to start 2024 in South Africa – Woolies vs Checkers vs Pick n Pay and more

 ·15 Jan 2024

Makro remains the most affordable among the top seven grocery retailers in South Africa for essential items as of 15 January 2024.

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 January was R412, which is slightly less expensive than in December 2023 (R418).

Makro offered the cheapest basket in January 2024, totalling R385.36, which was R1.45 less than last month. This is also R18.55 less than the second cheapest retailer – Shoprite (R403.91).

Woolworths had the most expensive basket at R439.91, which remained the same from last month and is R54.55 more than Makro.

Spar was the third cheapest retailer (R404.91), but 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 Lover’s
White BreadR19.99R19.99R19.99R18.99R18.99R19.99R19.45
Sunflower oilR79.99R79.99R79.99R69.99R74.99R64.95R74.99
Maize mealR38.99R41.49R38.99R34.99R35.99R29.95R36.99
White SugarR64.99R64.99R61.99R64.99R59.99R53.58R62.99
Toilet paperR79.99R74.99R96.99R69.99R79.99R71.00R79.95
Total R422.91R419.41R439.91R404.91R403.91R385.36R407.84

The latest food basket data from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices in South Africa continued a declining trend in food inflation, which should continue into 2024.

Across the 44 food items tracked by the group, five came down in price, year-on-year, and one item remained flat. The balance (39 items) went up, albeit by smaller increments.

Year-on-year food price inflation is still higher than headline inflation recorded by Stats SA but is showing a downward trend. The basket inflation in November was at 9.9% that month, meaning year-on-year prices have eased by as much as two whole percentage points.

23 food items of the basket of 44 still saw double-digit growth year-on-year, reflecting significant increases. Eight of these saw prices jump over 20%:

On the other side of the equation, the five food items that have actually come down in price include onions (-27%), cooking oil (-13%), Maize meal (-7%), Beef (-2%), and Beef liver (-1%).

Read: Good news for braai lovers this Christmas – with a warning for 2024

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