Charity SPAR shopping cart trolley
Photo Credit: SPAR

Can we save a buck or two by shopping at different grocery stores? We checked out 30 identical products from four South African shops and the results were very surprising.


Johannesburg, South Africa (31 May 2022) – I’ve been thinking a lot about the cost of living in South Africa lately. It feels like “I’m breaking the bank” every time I head to the shops, take-aways and eating out is getting really pricey and petrol is about to go up again, which ultimately makes the price of everything go up.

But can we save a buck or two by shopping at different grocery stores?

Shopping and spending habits continue to shift as cost saving becomes increasingly imperative, with no end in sight to South African consumers’ rising cost of living. According to Massmart, the rising pressure on their wallets is pushing consumers to buy more private brand products as part of their routine shopping trips.

Massmart’s opinion might be valid but fundamentally they are pushing their own “no-name” products, and I wanted this list to be independent and really look at the cost differentiation… so I reached out to followers on social media and asked them what they would deem to be 20 essential products that I would need to compare to understand the difference in cost and what stores they wanted to be featured. Thankfully many suggested the same sort of things, and the final list turned out to be 30 products that included some cleaning goods and some health/sanitary products. Also, the four retailers that were constantly being compared were Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar and Woolworths, so I included them as the main grocery stores.

My goal was to take the EXACT same product and compare apples with apples or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

Here are a couple of things I learnt along the way:

  • Woolies was the most expensive – even without the bags – but we knew this already.
  • SPAR was the most economical… by over R130 when comparing 30 identical products.
  • Toilet paper has extreme price differences wherever you go – the most expensive was R129.99 and the cheapest was R119.99 but when doing an online check, TakeAlot was selling them for R99.
  • Nappies are costly no matter where you shop!
  • Inequality is real – what some think is essential, others believe to be a luxury.
  • Many agreed that groceries are getting more expensive every week – one person suggested that some prices have increased by 40% in the last six months.
  • Markets are becoming a big thing, with many heading out on weekends to get fresh produce from food markets.
  • We need to petition the government to make sanitary items accessible!

And here is the complete table – I have highlighted the highest price in each line item:

The Cost of it All! We Compared 30 Household Products From 4 Retailers!
Photo Cred: Brent Lindeque | Good Things Guy

McKinsey’s Global Consumer Sentiment Survey found that 61% of South African consumers (across income levels) are cutting back on spending, with 70% of respondents paying more attention to the price of products, and my social media request shows the same. We are becoming more aware of what and where we are spending.

“Every Rand we spend is a small vote towards the type of world we want to live in. Every Rand counts.” – unknown.

So where to from here? Well, I did what I always do and went to the expert on this subject – my mom – who shared these valuable tips with me (and you):

  • Look for specials. Every week every shop puts certain items on special. Stocard puts all of the specials on the App every week, so you can plan your shop and save!
  • No name brands – or generic in-house brands – are just as good and cheaper.
  • Use loyalty cards. There are many specials that are only available if you have a loyalty card.
  • If you are a pensioner, find out on what days they have this discount – most stores have them and it will definitly save you a buck.
  • If you go to a Woolies after 2:30 pm – any meat that expires that day is less 30%. I cannot confirm if this is every store, but it certainly happens near my mom’s house, just go in and ask them.

Sources: Checkers | Pick n Pay | SPAR | Woolworths 
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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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