But are the prices really more interesting than in traditional stores?
To find out, the association UFC-Que choisir has conducted a survey whose results are surprising.
The hunt for low prices is becoming a national sport in these times of inflationary crisis. Faced with the rise in food and hygiene prices (+13% over one year last month), more and more consumers are turning to hard discount stores, thinking they can save money. “In hard discount, the prices are still lower,” argues a customer in the TF1 report at the top of this article. “I often go to Aldi or Lidl. It’s still cheaper than the big chains like Carrefour or Leclerc”, confirms another. However, according to a survey by UFC-Que Choisir, this is not always the case. Far from it.
First prices: cheaper and as good?
The association sifted, from September 24 to October 8, then from November 8 to 15, the prices of a hundred references, that is to say more than “28,000 prices in stores and 550,000 in drives” in total. The result of the operation is that there is no debate about national brands such as Coca or Nutella: they are cheaper in hard-discount stores. On the other hand, for entry-level products, first prices and private labels, it is the opposite. “If you buy a basket of 12 first-price products with the same brand name, it will cost you 42 euros at Auchan drive, 43 euros at Hyper U, Intermarché hyper and Carrefour, and 44 euros at E.Leclerc drive, while at Lidl and Aldi, you will pay 54 and 56 euros respectively. Casino closes the market, at 63 euros”, calculated the association. “Mission accomplished for the traditional distribution groups, which had developed their private labels and MPP to counter the arrival of these low-cost supermarkets in France,” it notes.
A TF1 team went to an Auchan store to find out. Bingo: on the shelves, a kilo of first price rice is sold for 1.02 euros, while it is displayed at 1.55 euros at Lidl. The same goes for grated cheese, a 200g bag costs 1.85 euro at Lidl, 33 cents more expensive than the first price package at Auchan. For the customers of hard-discounters, it is a bit of a cold shower. “This is not normal. It’s not hard-discount anymore, it’s a supermarket like any other”, reacts a woman in the TF1 report. So how to spend less? The only solution is to take the time to compare prices between different stores.
“There are tools on the Internet, you find online comparators. The best way to save money is to favour private labels over national brands”, explains Grégory Caret, director of the Observatoire de la consommation at UFC-Que Choisir. Another tip is to compare the prices per kilo rather than the prices on the labels, as this customer did: “Per kilo, we have the real price,” explains the young woman. The gouda, for example, is 2.39 euros, but there are only 200 g, while the other is 2.59 euros, but there are 300 g in it.” You can also make a list so that you are not tempted to buy more than you need when shopping. And above all, avoid shopping on an empty stomach.