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

The price of foodstuffs was a key trigger in the Arab Spring riots of 2011

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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Posted by: Ahmed

Most unfriendly place to shop. No basic customer service, over hyped.

Posted by: joy

From my peronel experience Lulu is the best in terms of cost offcourse (dont agree to survey as different brands though same grocery item are used to compare) and also the quality of vegetables atleast they provide is much better in comparison to Cf &Geant.

Posted by: Allan Earls

I will always go to Carrefour which is customer friendly, everything is definitely cheaper, fresher and not genetically modified, I will not allow Spinneys and Waitrose to insult my intelligence my offering me mediocre fruits, vegetables and grocery items at a forbiddingly exorbitant price, thanks but no thanks!

Posted by: Sreevalsan.K.Panicker

Last 12 years I am a regular customer of LuLu and satisfied with their prices and services. Always the prices of all products in Lulu are less compared to other Supermarkets & Hypermarkets. Their sales & after sales service is 100% better than other retail outlets.

Customer satisfaction is the key success to an entity and Lulu deserves it.

Posted by: Chris

Lulu is cheaper than the other majors and the great advantage is that whereas the other major chains charge for their bags Lulu give a decent bag that does not break before returning home and have sufficient packers for all checkouts. The queues in Carrefour are way too long caused by the total inefficiencies of not having packers and having small bags that only hold one or two items. Since converting to Lulu I find that i am spending around 10% less and I can park closer and I do not have to juggle my shopping to validate my parking pass to exit the MOE carpark. Note however that as an ex retailer, prices vary based on location and some foods for certain nationalities are cheaper in Karama than they are in Al Barsha.

Posted by: Rohini

This seems to be a vague report, as the consumer market inUAE is very wide. Their nationality, demand, requirement, taste and many things varies and all those are high factor to consider before comparison. Can do better comparison.

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