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Sun 8 Jan 2012 01:17 PM

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Revealed: the UAE's cheapest supermarkets

Hypermarkets dominate in survey ranking stores for cheapest food, household items

Revealed: the UAE's cheapest supermarkets
The price of foodstuffs was a key trigger in the Arab Spring riots of 2011
Revealed: the UAE's cheapest supermarkets
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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Jake 8 years ago

Very interesting and much appreciated!

Could someone clarify whether the same pricing scheme applies to their Express/Market/Fresh shops as well? Their volume is obviously smaller, but to what extend does is this being reflected in their pricing policy?

Another point, that I noticed, products of the Carrefour brand are often equal if not better quality at a much lower price.

Syed 8 years ago

Why did you forget LULU?, its the cheapest and Best retail in UAE, NOW in GCC. Your report is biased as you are mentioning only European chains. Good support for European dyeing markets and Brands.

peter 8 years ago

Waitrose may be the most expensive supermarket, but Spinneys will be close.....their prices are a rip off !!

Well done Carrefour...it's not a mere coincidence that they are the cheapest AND the largest. Customers know value when they see it and that is the reason everyone prefers to shop at Carrefour.

Jad Aoun 8 years ago

Lulu is number three on the list. I'm guessing you didn't actually check out the complete ranking.

Jake 8 years ago

You didn't even bother to check the list, now did you...Lulu comes in right on place 3 of the cheapest retailer just before the hyperpanda.

You have wasted your racial silver bullet over some groceries

Marc 8 years ago

The problem when it comes to these sort of reports is that it fails to take into account the quality of the food on sale. While I would love to shop at Carrefour – I shopped at Asda in the UK – the cheapest place for me to shop in the UAE is Waitrose.

Yes, that might seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve found Waitrose’s fresh food lasts twice as long as Carrefour’s.

If a ball of iceberg lettuce is 12AED in Carrefour and 16AED in Waitrose, but I only manage to eat half of the lettuce from Carrefour before it goes off and have to buy another one, while I manage to eat the whole ball of lettuce from Waitrose in the same time, then I will have spent 24AED for the same amount of lettuce from Carrefour compared to 16AED from Waitrose.

I live alone. Obviously that wouldn’t be the case for a family of four who would easily get through the whole ball before it goes off, but it shows why the price at purchase isn’t the only factor to consider.

That said, I buy all my tinned stuff from Carrefour.

Ranches Dave 8 years ago

Lulu is included - trying read the list before spouting your racist nonsense.

Matthew 8 years ago

Syed, LULU is certainly certainly not the cheapest & best. Several times I did compare with Carrefour & KM Trading/AlSafa Supermarkets (in Abu Dhabi) and LULU was ALWAYS expensive than these two.

Norme 8 years ago

Now wouldn't it be good if we could compare the different supermarkets' "fresh" ready to eat hot food offerings. Well, all of them start from a fairly low base (chicken neck, backbones and rib cages in the curries and stews) but, for my money, Lulu is head and shoulders above the above the others in this respect.

Simon Griffiths 8 years ago

@ Marc, what on earth are you consuming??? I would rather ingest vegetables from Carrefour that normally last a few days than genetically modified crops aka vegetables (GMO) from Waitrose or Asda that last several weeks. In this age, ignorance is no more bliss, it is catastrophic...