Our latest supermarket survey found products can be on special so often shoppers risk being misled about the savings they’re getting.

Supermarkets use a confusing array of terms in their price promotions, making it harder for shoppers to gauge whether they’re getting a genuine discount.

Stores enticing customers with price promotions must be offering a genuine deal. Otherwise, they’ll mislead consumers and breach the Fair Trading Act.

Kiwi consumers also face one of the most concentrated supermarket industries in the world, with just two big players, Countdown and Foodstuffs (owner of the New World and Pak’nSave brands).

Despite this, the industry hasn’t had a lot of scrutiny. It’s time for that to change.

We want the Commerce Commission to use its powers to investigate competition and prices in the supermarket sector.

Calling out supermarket “specials”

Have you been misled by a less than “special” supermarket deal? Have you noticed routinely discounted items being advertised as “special” offers? Have you got examples of confusing pricing from your local supermarket?

Let us know. Support our campaign for fair supermarket prices by sending your examples to playfair@consumer.org.nz.

Member comments

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Donal M.
07 Oct 2020
Basic items upsized prices

Sausages through the roof.
Cheese.
Meats generally

P A G.
03 Oct 2020
Supermarket Covid Price Rises

I have definitely noticed many upward price "changes" in Countdown and New World since Covid lockdown started.

Brian H.
02 Oct 2020
Watties Boysenberries

I buy Watties boysenberries regularly from Albany PAK’nSAVE, a month ago purchase price $2-99, 2 weeks later price $3-39, this week (30/09/20) $3-69.
I don’t believe PAK’nSAVE purchase price of this can of fruit changed so much In 3 weeks,. Yet every week their shelf states :- Every Day Low Prices. They are conning the public.

B v.
02 Oct 2020
Duopoly

I’ve been in the industry for over 35 years.
There is no way that there is price fixing nor that special’s are not specials.
The suppliers offer deals ( special prices for advertising the product) that each company either accepts or not.
Plus each company does their own discounting to entice shoppers.
Both companies are very competitive.
NZ being a very small market only has so much to give as costs are high to bring in the overseas content. So the manufacturers or suppliers only have a certain margin in which to discount.
Why do you think the big discount companies like Aldi have not arrived.
That’s because they have to buy on the local market as well and the manufacturers prices are what they are keeping in mind their costs.
Produce is the price it is as we’re controlled by the growing conditions and the amount available and controlled by what the supermarkets are prepared to pay either for the quality and availability.
So they pay for what they get and price accordingly.
So this is all hype and political from apolitically point of view
NZ public are paying more than the UK but only because of lack of population and supply availability.
Go live elsewhere if you want marginally lower grocery costs
Personally I’m sick of hearing about overcharges.
Go figure petrol.
We’re paying barrel prices now that we’re the same as over 29 years ago.
Petrol should be 70c less per litre.
Who’s making all the money apart from the suppliers?
Yes- the government- surprised?

Peter J.
02 Oct 2020
Local retailers

Funny how the local retailer can sell the same product at the same price as the big supermarket.
All the supermarket offers is convenience by buying everything in the same place.
If I go to the local Saturday market, I can pay half the price for my fruit & vegetables.
Supermarkets provide no price advantage for all their bulk purchasing, scale of sales etc.
Supermarkets buy their product at a lower price as well.
Supermarkets are not offering a better deal - watch what happens when Costco get here. Watch out for the "Gull effect" to hit the supermarkets nearby.

Brian H.
02 Oct 2020
Supermarkets are overcharging

20 years ago NZ supermarkets were very competitive, and certainly cheaper than UK. But unfortunately over time are now far more expensive than UK and most countries I have visited. For example NZ butter and cheese can be purchased in UK cheaper than here in NZ. So not sure where you get your information from.
As for your comment on Petrol, Brent crude price 29 years ago was $22 it is now $40
So I don’t get your excuse for supermarkets over charging, that the majority of customers believe has been happening for a long time. Don’t blame the government for supermarkets greed.

Brian H.
02 Oct 2020
Duopoly you are mistaken

Your comments are somewhat different from most customers I speak with. 20 years ago NZ prices were cheaper than UK and most OECD countries. Now NZ is far more expensive than those same countries. NZ butter and cheese are cheaper in UK than here.
Your comments regarding oil price is also incorrect, 29 years ago Brent crude $21 now it’s $40, don’t blame the government for supermarkets greed.
Check the NZ wealth index table and you will see a big increase in Food supply personnel in the high wealth table.

Steven B.
02 Oct 2020
Supermarket Overcharging

It is well known in the FMCG industry that both supermarket companies( FS and CD)employ bullying tactics with their suppliers. They earn super profits in New Zealand and have incredibly strong cashflow with almost all cash sales and credit terms with suppliers. To be become eligible to own a New World or PaknSave is seen on the same lines if not more lucrative than winning Lotto. This is especially in Covid times.

Judith B.
02 Oct 2020
Super markets and prices

Two things--gross over charging for goods due to lack of real competition and the second, let's just get rid of all the wretched cards with so called bonuses and the like. More plastic, that is all it is. Lower prices are what is needed. Let's get Aldi for a start. Both countdown and the other lot were in given a captive clientele in Lockdown while small operators suffered including a local greengrocer who was not able to deliver--no means. This cartel grip has not seen any reciprocal kindness or reduced prices by the supermarket chains, truly disgusting. Wake up New Zealand!!

B v.
02 Oct 2020
Peter j rely first

You’re buying what the supermarkets deem “seconds”
Ie not what they want to supply
They only want the best available at the market. They are not interested in seconds. You choose. No problem.
Now as far as “plastic” costs are concerned and the costs of belonging to a bonus scheme- that is funded by the the individual supermarkets concerned especially owner operated ones like new world. The owner pays and passes the discounts to you. At his cost.

SANDRA C.
29 Aug 2020
AIRPOINTS OPTION ON CLUBCARD

I swapped over to the Airpoints option only to find out later that you have to spend $200 minimum to get one airpoint! Why don't they inform you of this before you're tempted to do so? The checkout operators aren't au fait with the terms of the Clubcard. They can't even tell you what you have to spend to get one Clubcard point. I say the "rules and requirements" of Clubcard should be displayed in large font near the checkout so customers can brush up on the "advantages" etc and make an informed decision. I agree with the other comments made by Clubcard holders re the so-called specials.

Russell F.
09 Aug 2020
regular specials

There are several products that I regularly use that I only buy when on special. The specials often last for 2 to 3 weeks and run every few months. By stocking up I rarely run out before they are on special again. I have also noticed that, at least some, products are on special at the same time in both NewWorld and Countdown which makes me suspect that these specials are driven by the supplier.

Personally I am less concerned with specials in supermarkets where I am buying standard stuff so I know what is going on and much more concerned with other major retailers - Farmers, Briscoes, et al where I am making one off or infrequent purchases. There I really don't know if the price is special or not!

For any significant purchases I generally use priceme or pricespy to sanity check prices.

Kerry M.
03 Oct 2020
"Major Retailer Specials"

Have a look at Pricespy.co.nz, https://classic.pricespy.co.nz/product.php?pu=1819467. Select any retailer and you will see the variation, sometimes over two days, of over $200. Nobody, including Consumer, want anything to do with this disgrace.

Phil D.
08 Aug 2020
Butter

500 gram butter which is the normal weight of butter but purchasing 400 gram butter not realising the weight difference.
There can be a slight discount which attracts you to pickup.