Supermarket hack can save you hundreds

Looking to save money at the checkout? Here's the simple trick every Aussie shopper needs to know.

People shopping for fruit and vegetables
In the 12 months to September 2022, the cost of fruit and vegetables rose a whopping 16.2%. Source: Getty Images

With Aussie households continuing to feel the pinch of inflation, new data from consumer group CHOICE has found just 44% of shoppers are using unit pricing to get the most out of their grocery budget. In the 12 months to September 2022 the cost of fruit and vegetables rose 16.2%, bread and cereal products rose by 10% and the price of meat and seafood increased by 7.3%. All of that of course adds up to a bigger bill at the checkout, so many of us are trying to shop smarter.

However, as we scan the shelves for bargains, our eye is easily distracted by sales promotions, or regular prices displayed prominently, that aren't actually good value. As CHOICE's Editorial Director Marg Rafferty explains, it's the smaller text underneath those prices, eg the cost per 100g, that really matters when it comes to getting the best deal.

unit pricing
unit pricing

"With cost of living prices continuing to rise, everyone is on the lookout for ways to save money on their grocery bill. Unit pricing, that small text underneath the main price, is a great way to compare brands and sizes to make sure you’re reducing the money you spend at the supermarket,” Rafferty says. "Our recent survey found 44% of Australian shoppers surveyed used unit pricing to cut spending at the supermarket."

CHOICE's Editorial Director Marg Rafferty holding painkillers
CHOICE's Editorial Director Marg Rafferty says shoppers are much more likely to select the best value product if presented with unit pricing. Source: Supplied

The recent CHOICE survey put shoppers to the test by showing them images with and without unit pricing and asking them to pick which was the best value. “When we asked shoppers to pick between products without unit pricing, only 60% of shoppers picked the best value deal," explains Rafferty. "When unit pricing was included, that jumped to 74%, proving just how important unit pricing is when it comes to saving money."

The research also found that 71% of shoppers surveyed had problems using unit prices in supermarkets:

  • 35% say the unit price was not always displayed

  • 34% say unit pricing text was difficult to read

  • 31% say unit pricing was obstructed or covered by another label

Rafferty says that CHOICE supports strengthening the Unit Pricing Code, to ensure that shoppers are able to easily read and understand unit prices. “Our survey results show that there’s still work to be done when it comes to making sure shoppers are getting the most out of unit pricing," she says. "Unit prices should be displayed prominently, and there needs to be greater consistency when it comes to units of measurement used.”

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Smiling women and piles of Australian cash
Smiling women and piles of Australian cash