Cheapest supermarket

While price isn’t the only consideration, we wanted to know which supermarket is the cheapest. So CHOICE sent undercover shoppers into 110 supermarkets across Australia to collect a basket of 33 items at Coles, Woolworths and ALDI. We also surveyed 20 IGA stores.

You can see the results below - for a budget basket, the prices are within a $10 range. However, the leading brand items at Coles and Woolworths can cost a lot more. IGa was 5-7% more expensive for leading brands, but when factoring in specials, the price was on par thanks to their ‘price match promise’.

If you have any supermarket saver tips, share them below.


Interesting! Thanks Brendan. It’s nice to have some data on the issue, not a random person’s anecdotes. :slight_smile:


Was there much price variation depending on location- city vs country- state to state etc?


We are “price sensitive” and buy almost no processed food. We used to buy much of our ‘staples’ (basic items such as milk, flour, sugar, tissues, toilet paper, etc.) shopping from Aldi. We would then have to go to Woolworths or Coles to supplement with items which weren’t in Aldi’s range. This saved us quite a bit of money.

Coles used to be cheaper than Woolworths, but that seemed to have reversed a few years ago and we started to buy mostly from Woolworths after our Aldi shopping.

A seismic shift occurred when Woolworths started price matching Aldi’s products and it became just as cheap and more convenient to buy everything in one shop.

Then, to make it even better, perhaps a year ago our local Woolworths stores started marking perishables down as they approached ‘best by’ and ‘use by’ dates, and, doing more discounts. Conveniently, they keep their mark downs together, so they are easy to find.

We now buy up on the discounted items such as dairy products and meat, and freeze them until we need them. This way we are still within the life of the product. The result is that we spend even less on perishables.

In our area Coles mark down too, but not nearly as much as Woolworths, and they keep the mark downs in their original locations. This makes it harder to find, and they often get covered up by non-discounted stock.

Selected Aldi stores have started marking down some of their stock items like bread as well, but this varies tremendously from store to store. Most don’t seem to mark down their perishable stock items at all, they just remove ‘use by’ & ‘best before’ items on the due date from the shelves.

What we have notice though is that it is the budget lines in both Woolworths and Coles seem to be diminishing, being replaced by more expensive lines. Sometimes it is done by rebranding and repackaging homebrands, other times the budget home brands just disappear. When I have enquired, they don’t know why, it is just what they have been sent. All in all, it seems to be getting more expensive to buy food.


My tip is to always shop at the grocers first, then go to the supermarket for the few extras you need. If I go to the supermarket first I always base my meals around packaged goods. If I go to the grocers then I wind up buying less, and bonus - I have healthier meals and less snacks floating about :slight_smile:

If anyone here has tips on when the supermarkets discount meat I would love to know. It always seems so random to me!


@gordon - It was all within around $5, so pretty flat regardless of state or territory. We aimed to give a decent geographic spread across the country, and supermarkets were surveyed in clusters so that each store has local competition.

@meltam - I didn’t realise Woolworths price matched Aldi (I don’t have an Aldi on my normal travels so I don’t come across their prices much). Do you find this across the board with most items?

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Well its time for Tasmania to get Aldi


Woolworths CEO stated in January that Woolworths would inject 1 Billion dollars into Woolworths to ensure its prices were lower than Coles (for the second year in a row 1 Billion Dollars) Coles hasn’t needed to do that I would love to see this next year when WW have got that subsidy ramping up their grocery lines, also when WW bring in their rounding of prices to the nearest 10c from 1 - 9c eliminated… I do almost all my shopping in Coles and our weekly spend hasn’t changed much over past few years, even having to buy gluten free products too.


What Woolies did was drop the price of many basic items to the same as Aldi.

They don’t actually price match if you say you only pay $x at Aldi.


Hi @TillySouth

I find most of the meat products are marked down based on the “Packed on” date and time but many labels don’t show this very well. ALDI tend to pack their’s in special gases so the pack has a longer shelf life and tends to sell well before their “Display until” dates.

From a web site where this mark down time was asked about the answers varied a little but mostly they advised Mondays and Tuesdays around 10 - 11 am and it had this answer as well “Major supermarket chain department manager here. Markdowns are done every day as necessary . First one will be done early , normally before 9. If not sold then another one around 2. Third one later in the day - 5ish. Most things don’t make the second or third markdown . It’s done on percentages 20, 40 and 60% progressively through the day. There’s no set day for markdowns as products go out of date constantly.”

Hope that helps you find better bargains.


We have asked at different supermarkets about when they do their markdowns, and we have consistently been given different answers. Some do it toward the end of the day, some do it progressively through the day. We have also been told it depended on their staffing levels; they do the markdowns when they had enough seniors staff for one to go around and do it.

Tilly the best thing to do is to ask the store manager(s) where you shop about when they do it.


Our closest supermarket (Woollies) marks down progressively during the day…tends to be after restocking occurs where older stock is moved to the front/top. I expect easier to do at that time.

We are also happy to buy significantly marked down produce nearing its best before date. The only ones we might think twice are those which have use by dates and we are unlikely to consume quickly.

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I find our shopping at Coles or Woolies is often a lot cheaper than Aldi. We scan the half price specials each week and stock up on things we need. We’ve found most products at Coles or Woolies make it to the half price catalogues every few months or more often. If you’re willing to change brands it’s even easier to save. We’ve had weeks where we buy $110 worth of groceries but only pay $50, saving $60 (as sometimes the half-price specials are better than half price).

Can’t do this at Aldi, their specials are usually only a small amount off the regular price. A friend of ours always shops at Aldi. He regularly buys a particular drink which is slightly cheaper than the equivalent at Woolies. We buy it in bulk at Woolies when it is on special and always get it cheaper than the price he pays. I’ve tried to convince him to check the half price specials but he never gets around to it.


In the public arena there seems to be a mindset that Aldi is always the cheapest and “I wouldn’t shop anywhere else”. My experience is that Aldi just doesn’t have the shelf space in the stores I have visited to supply many items and offer a reasonable amount of choice.
Also, their meat prices are usually always way above other supermarkets even when their’s is on special. In an Aldi store I visited they didn’t stock flour, their toilet pan deodorants I bought just leaked away (no pun) and were messy to reload. Additionally, some seedling punnets they advertised were very sick looking on the first day they were available. A relative of mine developed a nasty rash after using one of their clothes washing powders. This is not intended as an Aldi knocking exercise but don’t just be blindly loyal to them, or any other retailer for that matter. If you have a choice of supermarkets, exercise it.

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Comment from Coles MD John Durkan on the cost of basket items:


From the Choice article:
“It’s already an overpriced grocery market in my view and I’ve been saying that for nine years,” Durkin told analysts and investors at a strategy meeting.

“I still look at products here that are made overseas and they are crazy prices. We need to bring those prices down.”

If he’s been saying that for nine years, then why was nothing done about bringing prices down, down, down??


Good article, but price isn’t the only consideration for me when I shop. I choose to shop at an IGA, because they still employ checkout staff, and I appreciate that they open up extra lanes when there are people waiting. Both Coles and Woolies are only interested in people serving themselves, but that isn’t always of much help when you have a weekly shop to check out.


We also do about 30~40% of our shopping at the local IGA. They stock some products that ALDI, Coles, and Woolies don’t. I like to offer them support, as I wouldn’t want our local supermarket to disappear. Our suburb used to have three supermarkets, and now we’re down to one.

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There are a few name brand products some IGA stores carry that none of Woolies, Coles, or even Leo’s in Melbourne does. Unfortunately each IGA can be hit or miss whether they stock any specific product outside the core of a range.

As a family we do some shopping at Aldi some at Woolies and some items at IGA.
We buy our basic load items at ALDI, we buy the specific brand products we prefer at woolies and pick up local items when necessary at IGA.
Woolies is noticeably cheaper than a few years back and coles is just to dear generally.
We don’t go to them all on the same day, we tend to do big shops once every three weeks to a month, one week it maybe do the big ALDI shop maybe a week later do the big woolies shop and on a needs basis we ad hoc at IGA.