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Shoppers do battle with array of supermarket price promotions

Milk and dairy products on a supermarket shelf. Photo is illustrative.
Milk and dairy products on a supermarket shelf. Photo is illustrative. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Food prices in stores have varied much of late, making finding the best deals quite a challenge for shoppers, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.

With promotional prices factored in, it is possible to find some groceries on sale at around half the price of similar items elsewhere, AK reported.

Chief economist at Luminor bank Lenno Uusküla said that this nonetheless requires a considerable amount of effort on the part of the shopper.

"Personally, I have been able to buy the same item within a week with a price difference of around double," he told AK.

"Deciding that a price level is too high, however, and heading to another store in the city to look for a better price is not easy," Uusküla went on.

AK found differences when comparing prices of the same products at some retail chains.

For example, a 680-gram plastic tub of Onu Eskimo brand raspberry and chocolate cream ice cream costs around €5 at Coop stores, but €7 at Maxima outlets.

As for an everyday product like milk, the same brand was €0.60 cheaper on Rimi's shelves, than on Maxima's (in this case a two-liter carton of Farmi full-cream milk).

Jaanika Terasmaa, head of Maxima Estonia's sales and marketing department, told AK that supply and demand was at play here.

"With one chain, for example, Farmi milk sells very well and the supply is large, while with another chain, it might be Alma brand milk that sells well. Depending on where a supplier sees the better opportunity, negotiating a better purchasing price is often viable," Terasmaa said.

Maxima was also selling Lindt and Kalev chocolate in its stores at promotional rates which were again almost half the usual price level.

"It is more certain that customers prefer the products on offer, and we have been seeing a very clear trend whereby a customer buys more of a product which carries a red (ie. promotional) price tag. The customer expects to get bigger discounts, and we are working towards that," Terasmaa went on.

Rimi Estonia's purchasing manager Marilin Jürisson said that coffee has been the most-purchased item when it comes to promotional products.

"If I'm not mistaken, right now, nearly 70 percent of coffee is bought at promotional prices rather than at regular prices. This practice has evolved somehow, and this has been the case for several years already. That proportion of coffee that is bought at regular prices is very small."

A 500g pack of Maks ja Moorits homemade minced meat cost €3.59 in Coop and Selver stores at the time of writing, but was in fact costlier at Rimi, at €4.00.

Jürisson said that comparing just one product across different stores does not give the customer much.

She said: "We may have some other types of minced meat Rimi whose price is cheaper than that of some of our competitors. Every retail chain has its cheaper products, then there are products with uniform prices, and products with higher prices."

Jaanika Terasmaa at Maxima added that customers are nonetheless currently having a very difficult time.

"All our competitors also want to offer the customer the cheapest possible prices. So it is up to the customer to find the optimal price amid this ocean of ​​cheap price offers. I believe that this is also a major challenge for consumers," Terasmaa said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Tõnis Grepp.

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