Last month, the Australian Government launched the GroceryChoice initiative, with the goal of helping consumers find the cheapest place to shop for their groceries. As I wrote at the time, the GroceryChoice website allows users to compare prices in a given area, but comparisons across areas are not made easy. Undeterred, I simply scraped all the data from the web-site for easier analysis. Today GroceryChoice released prices for the month of September, making it possible to start analysing prices over time as well as by region and retailer.
The website provides prices for a number of specific grocery “baskets” (Fruit & Vegetables, Meat & Seafood, etc.) as well as for a more general “Basic Staples” basket. A crude average of prices of this Basic Staples basket around the country would suggest that prices are on the rise, having increased from $75.41 for August to $75.97 for September. However, this figure should be taken with caution. Quite apart from the fact that this analysis does not take into account the differing population sizes in each region, there is also significant variation across the different retailers, as is evident in the chart below.
While Franklins prices increased by 4%, Coles and ALDI prices actually fell. So this is not a simple inflationary story. Digging a little further into the details, some interesting phenomena begin to appear. In the inner West of Sydney, where I live, Franklins prices also rose sharply, increasing by almost 3%. But what is more interesting is that there have been some enormous increases in the price of some of the specific grocery baskets. Coles put their price up for the Meat & Seafood basket by 6% and Woolworths put their Dairy basket up by 7%. Compounded monthly, rises like this would amount to more than 100% per annum! What is particularly noteworthy is that in both cases the basket in question had previously been the cheapest in the category. The price rise simply moved each basket closer in line with other retailers. Could it be that I am not the only one analysing this data?
The table below shows the biggest price increases and decreases by retailer and region for the Basic Staples basket. While Eastern Central NSW experienced the biggest price hike at their local Franklins, they also saw the biggest price drop at ALDI. Is Franklins throwing in the towel in Eastern Central NSW, surrendering to ALDI?
|Eastern Central NSW||ALDI||63.55||59.59||-3.96|
|Outer Melbourne South East||Coles||80.20||76.43||-3.77|
|Outer Sydney South West||Coles||79.19||75.43||-3.76|
|Outer Melbourne East||Coles||79.50||76.01||-3.49|
|Inner Sydney East||ALDI||61.66||58.39||-3.27|
|Outer Sydney South||Independents||80.04||85.61||5.57|
|South Eastern NSW||Franklins||75.48||81.15||5.67|
|Eastern Central NSW||Franklins||76.37||82.36||5.99|
Biggest Movers: Top 5 Increases and Decreases
Overall, the region with the biggest price rise was North Western WA, where Basic Staples rose 3.3%, while Inner Melbourne South East saw the biggest savings with prices falling there by 1.9%.