Coles and Woolworths fail the CHOICE Christmas Basket Challenge

‘Christmas is set to be more expensive this year,’ says CHOICE consumer advocate.

supermarket aisle of festive chocolates

As if Christmas wasn’t expensive enough, this year, according to the CHOICE Christmas Basket Challenge, the festive season will be even more costly than in previous years.

Each year, CHOICE conducts the comparison by putting together a shopping list of 22 items typically purchased around Christmas, then compares prices for these items across Aldi, Coles and Woolworths on the same day.

“Christmas is set to be more expensive this year,” says CHOICE consumer advocate Jonathan Brown.

“We compared the Christmas basics across Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. It wouldn’t be Christmas without candy canes, mince pies, pavlova and finding bits of tinsel around the house weeks later.”

This year, the analysis revealed that Coles and Woolworths customers will pay more for Christmas purchase than they did in 2018, with Aldi continuing its streak as the angel at the top of the cheap Christmas tree.

“When it comes to price, Aldi is the clear winner for a cheap Christmas, but of course other factors often come into consideration at Christmas, too. CHOICE’s Supermarket Satisfaction Survey earlier this year found that local supermarket brands were highly rated for their fresh food and customer service, so if freshness and service matters to you, it might be worth considering a local brand.”

 

Aldi’s Luxury Christmas Pudding has already topped CHOICE’s expert blind taste test, beating out the Coles equivalent. The low-cost supermarket has now also won the festive custard blind taste test.

choice best festive custard comparison chart

New research from IT and consulting service Accenture found that Australians will spend an average of $686 each this Christmas, with more than half of that ($351) going on groceries.

Grocery costs (35 per cent), disposable income (31 per cent) and utility costs (25 per cent) were the main factors influencing Christmas spend.

The same study also revealed that more than four in 10 of the 1000 survey participants said that they want to make ethical choices with the money they spend this year. They’ll do this by supporting small business, local or environmentally conscious retailers and by being aware of the origin of manufacture.

“There is a growing trend toward consumers spending their money on brands that reflect their values and who demonstrate they are taking positive steps to improve sustainability through their business practices,” said Accenture’s Glenn Heppell.

“As consumers become more environmentally and socially aware of the impact retailing has on the environment, retailers need to design their products and business around responsible initiatives.”

According to a report by PayPal, conscious consumers “know that their purchases have an impact and are willing to back their beliefs with their wallets”.

“They use their purchasing power to boycott brands that have a negative impact on society or the environment and reward those that align with their values,” said the report.

To that end, CHOICE experts (and the YourLifeChoices team) are getting behind the #buyfromthebush campaign.

“Really, what I want is something made with love and care in Australia by someone who has been affected by our drought. That’s what I want and what I’ll be buying for others,” said CHOICE managing editor Margaret Rafferty

Visit CHOICE for more Christmas gift guides and grocery tips.

How much do you think you’ll spend this Christmas?

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    COMMENTS

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    Jilly B
    10th Dec 2019
    10:17am
    I will spend what I can afford to pay for with debit card or cash. I have watched the prices all year at these 3 supermarkets and I am aware that the prices on many items have risen whilst the size of the product has been reduced. Also there is a trick that has been played for many years with multiple sizes of washing detergent, and many other products to confuse consumers. If you buy the same size each time it is easier to track price increases but many items are smaller than previously so consumer be aware.
    Jilly B
    10th Dec 2019
    10:17am
    I will spend what I can afford to pay for with debit card or cash. I have watched the prices all year at these 3 supermarkets and I am aware that the prices on many items have risen whilst the size of the product has been reduced. Also there is a trick that has been played for many years with multiple sizes of washing detergent, and many other products to confuse consumers. If you buy the same size each time it is easier to track price increases but many items are smaller than previously so consumer be aware.

    10th Dec 2019
    11:05am
    Christmas to me is just another day of the year. Nothing better than curried egg sandwiches for Christmas lunch.
    SuziJ
    10th Dec 2019
    1:53pm
    VCB, I'll be spending lunch with a few friends, but dinner will be a sandwich, too.
    Farside
    15th Dec 2019
    11:34pm
    what is your curried egg mix recipe? Not all curried egg sandwiches are equal.
    Tanker
    10th Dec 2019
    11:22am
    Over the years I have become increasingly disillusioned with Christmas due to the massive emphasis on selling product. It has lost the simple message of giving to become an exercise in spending ridiculous amounts on presents due to the marketing of product.
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    1:07pm
    So true, people are more interested in impression people and being gluttons than simple giving. We can all give love and time for free.
    Tanker
    10th Dec 2019
    11:22am
    Over the years I have become increasingly disillusioned with Christmas due to the massive emphasis on selling product. It has lost the simple message of giving to become an exercise in spending ridiculous amounts on presents due to the marketing of product.
    Ted Wards
    10th Dec 2019
    11:29am
    Here's the thing. We know that christmas comes every year, so why not buy ahead what can be purchased ahead of time? Buy the biscuits etc when they first hit the shelves when they are cheaper, buy presents during the year during the sales. Better yet, don't force yourself to celebrate this event, there is no law that says you have go into debt to buy things you don't need for people who also don't really need stuff. Give them some money and let them go get things they need during the boxing day sales. Or give them something during the year just because you wanted to. We are so programmed its ridiculous! Spending time with each other is important, not the trimmings!
    Jilly B
    10th Dec 2019
    11:41am
    How very true Ted! They can market and target all they like but that does not mean we have to get intoxicated by it all! Most people who have watched the decluttering program on television have come to realise that they already own an excess of clothes, shoes, kitchen equipment that they do not wear or use. Give a donation to a family or some charity who you admire and celebrate what you can afford. We survived and have been successful without all the excess that children demand and amazing 'Get' in these consumer riddled days. Enjoy a swim or the park or just some communicating with your children and friend's children and make the day simple.
    Jilly B
    10th Dec 2019
    11:41am
    How very true Ted! They can market and target all they like but that does not mean we have to get intoxicated by it all! Most people who have watched the decluttering program on television have come to realise that they already own an excess of clothes, shoes, kitchen equipment that they do not wear or use. Give a donation to a family or some charity who you admire and celebrate what you can afford. We survived and have been successful without all the excess that children demand and amazing 'Get' in these consumer riddled days. Enjoy a swim or the park or just some communicating with your children and friend's children and make the day simple.
    Anonymous
    10th Dec 2019
    11:58am
    We make just about everything from scratch as it tastes so much better than that awful manufactured food. We haven't bought Christmas presents for well over 20 years now after we had a family meeting and decided it was such a stupid tradition and we wouldn't do it any more.
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    1:09pm
    One of the things I can agree with you on VCBB is making from scratch not only tastes better but is better for you than packaged dead food.
    Anonymous
    10th Dec 2019
    3:16pm
    I also grow a lot of my vegetables as well.
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    3:24pm
    Yes VCBB growing your own is the best, I keep trying, saves money, taste better and more nutritious.
    BillF2
    10th Dec 2019
    12:17pm
    Retailers are quick to complain about reduced spending on their products, but if they looked in the mirror they might see who is really responsible. They make a big show of reducing prices, often on things that are not essentials, but keep very quiet when they increase prices, and those increases are rarely less than 10 percent. Another trick is to claim that a product is being offered at 50% of its normal retail price, but fail to mention that the 50% is on the new retail price, which will be 10 - 20% higher than the previous price after the reduced price period ends. And if a business can make a 50% reduction and still make a profit, what profit margins are being added to the wholesale cost of the product? All of this points to sheer greed. Little wonder most of us are more circumspect about what we buy.
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    1:06pm
    Will not be spending any extra money, cannot afford to. Of course they make all the so called traditional Christmas stuff more expensive, I would try shopping out of the box, try something different and cheaper.
    Cheezil61
    10th Dec 2019
    1:38pm
    Christmas will mean even less than it usually does due to my dad passing away a couple weeks ago! Grandkids live away & only stop in on the run to other grandparents house if at all (I am usually working thru Xmas New Year period & can never get time off work so i understand why this happens as not much fun at my house when i lack energy & enthusiasm for fun or cooking etc, especially after 12hr nightshifts etc!).. Stuff Xmas, it can go buggar off as i never have the money for it all & hate the stress around it all since my kids all grown up! :(
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    1:42pm
    Sorry to hear about your loss, I chose not to be part of the madness of Christmas a long time ago, and avoid it as much as I can, and once I did make the decision my life has been much easier each Christmas. My family know that I cannot afford much.
    Cheezil61
    10th Dec 2019
    8:06pm
    Thanks Musicveg & have to agree! I've worked same job for 18yrs & not being able to spend time wit kids/family due to the shiftwork & it being virtually impossible to get leave over all of summer but especially Xmas/New Year has taken it's toll. This year I wont be buying any presents or Xmas food but the 2 grandies & 2 neices will jus get money. Jus feels empty without my dad this year!
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    8:18pm
    I lost my dad 14 years ago, and my brother went a few years ago, my sister interstate who cannot afford to visit, so we are down to mum,me and my son. We have a quiet meal, go for a walk and play monopoly (we started the tradition of playing monopoly when my son was younger and kept it up), keeps us occupied and distracted from what is missing.
    Rae
    11th Dec 2019
    9:18am
    So sorry Cheezil. It is incredibly hard at Christmas after losing a loved one. Do try to spoil yourself. I still miss my dad. It's a big gap in life.
    Working the night shift is bloody terrible. I did it decades ago and thought it would kill me.
    Make sure you take your holidays as soon as you can and then relax and recuperate as it's an awful lot of stress suffering such a huge loss and all the responsibility that comes with it.
    SuziJ
    10th Dec 2019
    1:55pm
    Why fall for all the excessive sugary products? Cake, fizzy drinks, sweets, etc. We don't 'need' it, and our sugar levels will thank us for not overdoing it.
    Anonymous
    10th Dec 2019
    3:18pm
    I find the foods in Us and Canada are full of sugar and find it very difficult to find something on the menus I can eat.
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    3:23pm
    Also often with GMO's too.
    hyperbole
    10th Dec 2019
    3:39pm
    Only two of us this year and will not be spending any more than I normally do on groceries. I just buy the odd thing here and there in the week or so before Xmas. Will use my flybuys $50 to buy a small ham and some prawns. Have already got an Aldi Xmas cake and also their mince pies. No xmas presents any more in family so that is not a problem either. The parents can buy them all the rubbish they want. Nup, Xmas will be great at no extra expense at all here
    Franky
    10th Dec 2019
    7:38pm
    The declining value of the A$ will push prices up for Christmas and beyond. Blame the reserve bank and their crazy monetary policy for it. It also makes retirees poorer as investment returns drop.
    Rae
    11th Dec 2019
    9:23am
    Yes Frank people don't see it but the RBA pretty much killed off manufacturing and the tourist industry with the excessive high dollar when they kept rates too high through a mining boom and have now devalued the dollar too low by low rates for too long. In decades past governments would have fallen if a 30 to 40% devaluation had happened. Not sure if education is getting worse or if people just like getting poorer and poorer without a protest.

    Next year will be very nasty if the drought goes on and prices keep rising.
    KSS
    10th Dec 2019
    7:59pm
    There is a severe drought on and bush fires are both affecting the availability of raw materials from wheat to meat (ham lamb turkey steak etc) and vegetables are all in short supply. Stop whining about the cost of Christmas on one hand whilst professing to support the bush by buying from there on the other. A bit hypocritical don't you think.
    Incognito
    10th Dec 2019
    8:19pm
    Vegetables are not in short supply where I am, and the supermarkets look like they have heaps of meat by their advertising.
    KSS
    11th Dec 2019
    12:01am
    Lucky you.! Others not so much. Fewer crops mean higher prices. Add in higher demand and prices go up more.
    Rae
    11th Dec 2019
    9:26am
    Bit late whinging about grain prices after huge tracts of cropping land are contaminated by mining and the miners have stripped water supplies to contaminate a very large part of one of the few grain growing belts in the world. How good is an Agricultural Department working for foreign strip miners.

    12th Dec 2019
    1:03pm
    CHOICE and Accenture seemed to have missed a key point in their analyses - we consumers prefer Australian produce and Australian companies. Especially not Aldi with their unknown-named brands, it's a turn-off - not price competition between likes. Also, I would rather NOT the profits go to Germany, and not sure if they pay the full rate of taxes here either. Australian businesses any day!

    In fact, if a Supermarket creates separately marked aisles for Australian products, that would be a great one to transfer our business to - not holding my breath with CEOs after big bonuses.
    Incognito
    12th Dec 2019
    1:38pm
    I so agree with you GeorgeM, don't understand why so many keep shopping Aldi. If you can grow your own or shop at farmers markets it is better. Also check out farmhousedirect you can buy direct from growers,they have other things like grains, flour, honey and so much more. The governement should be subsidizing fresh food from Australian farmers so everyone will buy that instead of imports.
    Farside
    15th Dec 2019
    11:41pm
    I like the idea of an aisle for Australian products. It is so hard to find local products either in store or online with the big supermarkets despite improved product labelling requirements.


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