Revealed: the UAE's cheapest supermarkets

Hypermarkets dominate in survey ranking stores for cheapest food, household items
The price of foodstuffs was a key trigger in the Arab Spring riots of 2011
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Sun 08 Jan 2012 01:17 PM

French retail giant Carrefour has emerged as the cheapest among a collection of UAE supermarkets, according to a price comparison of staple food and household items [click here to see rankings].*

The rankings, which compared a basket of food and other household products at eight stores, showed Carrefour offered the best value for money, followed closely by its competitor Geant.

The world’s second-largest retailer, which operates 12 branches in Dubai, charged almost AED35 less than the most expensive store for the same 17 items, which included a mix of fruit and vegetables, bread, washing powder and nappies.

The total bill came to just AED215.35 for the goods, despite the inclusion of several imported items from countries in Europe and Asia.

“Carrefour has a monopoly in the region, they are the strongest by far,” said David Macadam, a retail analyst at Jones Lang LaSalle MENA. “Stores such as the one in Deira City Centre and Mall of the Emirates are makings hundreds of millions of dirhams per year, and shifting a tremendous amount of volume. The high volume allows them to sell products more cheaply.”

The priciest of the eight stores was Waitrose, where a 500g chicken breast cost AED23.75 compared with AED14.55 at Carrefour.

Next came Choitrams, where the bill totalled AED239.55 – more than AED24 more expensive than Carrefour – despite some lower-priced items such as apples.

The cost of basic foodstuffs has become a hugely sensitive subject in the Arab world in the last year, helping to fuel political protests that toppled rulers of Tunisia and Egypt.

Global food prices increased substantially in the second half of 2009 and throughout 2010, affected by poor harvests in countries like Russia, stockpiling by China and India, and trade barriers which caused supply pressures.

In a bid to keep costs down, the UAE government said last May it planned to fix the price tag of about 400 foodstuffs and household products at 70 outlets across the region.

The economy ministry also called on retailers to slash costs of basic commodities by 20-50 percent during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when demand often sends prices soaring.

Click here to see rankings of the UAE’s cheapest supermarkets.

*Data taken from a survey by Arabian Business’ sister title, TimeOut Kids

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