Our annual supermarket price survey has named Pak’nSave as the cheapest store in the six centres where prices were tracked.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said prices were collected for a basket of 30 popular grocery items over a seven-week period at Countdown, New World and Pak’nSave stores.

“Pak’nSave stores came in with the lowest prices, retaining the place the chain has held in nearly every survey over the past 15 years,” Ms Chetwin said.

Prices were closer at New World and Countdown. On average, the cost of the groceries at New World was about $3 to $5 higher than Countdown. The exception was Hamilton where average prices were level pegging.

Ms Chetwin said more than half the products tracked over the seven weeks were regularly on promotion.

“Price promotions can save consumers money. But we found some products are being discounted so often, shoppers have grounds to question whether the specials are really all that special.”

Items regularly marked down included household staples such as butter, bread, coffee, jam, yoghurt, pasta, snack bars, dishwashing liquid and shampoo.

“Price promotions have become the new normal in supermarket aisles. But shoppers face an unenviable task wading through the advertising noise to work out if they are getting a genuine bargain,” Ms Chetwin said.

Pricing practices have earned both Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises a place on the Commerce Commission’s roll of the most complained about traders. Foodstuffs owns the New World and Pak’nSave brands. Progressive Enterprises owns Countdown.

We’ve called for regular price monitoring to ensure consumers aren’t being misled about special prices.

Stores advertising special offers must be offering a genuine deal. “If the savings aren’t real, retailers risk breaching the Fair Trading Act,” Ms Chetwin said.

Members can access the survey results online.

About our survey

  • Shoppers visited supermarkets in north Auckland, east Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. They tracked prices for seven weeks for a list of 30 everyday household products. The list included food and drink as well as personal care and cleaning items. The survey didn’t include fresh meat, fish or produce because for a fair comparison quality would need to be considered. Wine and beer were also excluded.

  • For all items, a brand and pack size were specified. Where the shopper couldn’t find the brand or pack size specified, they substituted a similar item at all three supermarkets in that centre. Shoppers looked for multi-buys where they were cheaper and a unit price was calculated for the item.