Are Black Friday deals in the grocery sector worth it?

Black Friday specials

Are they as special as they seem?

Viccy Baker of Retail Price Watch the price comparison website designed to give consumers more choice visited Makro, Woolworths, Checkers Spar and Pick n Pay on Friday 25th November 2016.
“The grocery sections of Woolworths and Makro did not participate in “Black Friday” and therefore had only their “normal” specials. We could not find any national Spar Black Friday deals although individual stores may have had special offers.
“Checkers and Pick n Pay on the other hand offered numerous Black Friday deals.
“Checkers stood out for the average savings it offered – in several cases savings were close to those claimed by the brochure’s “up to 50% off”. If you bought two packs of Doritos, you were actually getting a 50% discount, and three loaves of Sasko white bread gave you savings of around 35% – only a little less than the 37% advertised in the brochure. If you bought four two litre cokes they cost R11 each – a price that has not been seen for several years and offering particular happiness to those who fear the looming sugar tax.
“Pick n Pay’s savings were a little more ambivalent – the savings on 500g Quality Street were not as great as claimed, with the average price in November and for the year 2016 not being as high as marked. Additionally, Pick n Pay offered several seemingly excellent deals where there had been good specials in the preceding weeks (Nescafe Classic 200g had been selling at R59.50 on promotion in some stores) but the price appeared to have risen to an average R70.92 just before the admittedly great special price of R54.
“In the fruit and veg sector, Pick n Pay appeared to have most items on a special, but again savings were not as obvious – a 4kg pack of potatoes was selling for R44.99 – only a 10% saving on the average price over the year and a 5% saving over the price in November. Two green peppers at R15.99 were actually more expensive than the average for the year and only marginally cheaper than the price earlier in November.
Pick n Pay was offering a special on Albany white bread of around 37% – excellent value and one of the few areas we found where savings were as solid as those of Checkers.

Competition Commissioner’s warning about food prices is timely

Speaking at a conference in Cape Town on Wednesday Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said the Commission is concerned businesses in the food sector are going to abuse drought-related rising prices. He hopes that such prices will go down when the drought fully abates.

Viccy Baker of the consumer price comparison website Retail Price Watch believes that certain prices are in fact being manipulated by retailers and producers as the Commissioner fears, and warns that consumers should shop with caution.

“The average price of 12.5kg White Star Super maize meal has increased by 86.6% since October last year, from R67 to R125,” she says. “The average price of 2.5kg White Star has increased by 33%, from R22.40 to R29.80.

“One would have expected bulk prices to be better per kg but this is clearly not the case.”


Exceptionally high price rises – are they justified?


The average price of Lipton 160g Rooibos Tea has increased by 108% in a year, from R25.75 to R53.49, in line with rooibos price increases countrywide.

“Yet rooibos is a wholly local product, with the South African market taking up about one third of the local crop in a non-drought year.

“The producer price of rooibos was R17.50/kg in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries. The producer price was expected to increase by 90% in 2016 according to the Rooibos Council.  Even if it increased by 100% as estimated in the table above beneficiation would still amount to about R300 a kilo as opposed to R143 a kilo in 2015.

“In contrast, South Africa is a net importer of ordinary black tea. Yet the average price of Five Roses 62.5g has increased by 16% from R11.04 to R12.88.

“We can all halve our tea consumption by sharing teabags but it’s not so easy with other staple products.

“Lentils have also shown steeply rising prices. A packet of Imbo brown lentils 500g has increased in price from an average R11.84 to an average of R21.52, an 82% increase. The packet says that Imbo lentils are imported from “Canada, Turkey and Australia.”  Yet the rand in September 2016 was almost on a par with its dollar price in October 2015.”

In addition says Baker individual stores are hugely increasing the prices of many personal items (Vaseline petroleum jelly doubling over the last month in some stores).  She urges consumers where possible to vote with their feet and their purses.

“Don’t take these price increases lying down” she says. “Complain to the store manager and write to the producer.

“Ordinary South Africans have managed to influence the price of university fees and toll fees – why not food prices?”