Grocery prices drop 14pc at supermarket giants
Grocery prices fell 14pc in the last 18 months as the big supermarkets tried to woo bargain-hunting customers, it was revealed today.
The largest ever branded price survey showed virtually no difference in price between Tesco, Dunnes Stores and Superquinn with just €1.14 between the dearest and cheapest item in a basket of 103 goods.
When SuperValu is thrown into the mix the gap between the most expensive and cheapest widened to €5.75.
The study, carried out by the National Consumer Agency (NCA), said the supermarket giants were still price-matching thereby wiping out any real competition.
Ann Fitzgerald, NCA chief executive, said: "The results show that while grocery prices have dropped across the board, over the past 18 months, there is evidence that the most powerful retailers in the State, between them controlling 70pc of the market, are still price matching in core branded items to a significant degree, albeit at much lower levels than in 2007 and 2008.
"This suggests that competitive pricing is still not a feature of the Irish grocery market and to address this there is a real need for a new entrant to the market to offer consumers a real alternative."
The survey compared the price of a basket of 103 branded goods in Tesco, Dunnes Stores and Superquinn, and a basket of 87 items when SuperValu is included.
Prices dropped around 14pc between January 2009 and last month.
Dunnes came out cheapest at €279.62, with Superquinn the most expensive at €280.76.
Tesco's basket cost €280.69.
Ms Fitzgerald said that at the time of the survey there were 36 special offers in Dunnes, Tesco and Superquinn, compared to 18 in June 2009 and seven in January 2009.
In the latest survey, 48pc of products in the comparison of Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn had identical prices compared to 71pc in June 2008.
Ms Fitzgerald said that while there had been a dramatic increase in the range of special offers, some 81pc of consumers would like to see more sustained price cuts.
"Retailers have always argued that the reason for promotions in the Irish market is that consumers want them but our research contradicts this and shows that like the NCA, consumers want long-term price cuts rather than the high-low pricing associated with special offers," Ms Fitzgerald said.