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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Sinead Ryan: You'll still have to shop hard to get a good grocery deal

Was it the Superquinn sausages which sealed the deal? SuperValu, the chain which bought out Feargal Quinn's supermarket empire, has overtaken market leader Tesco as grocery king.

New figures released this week show that Supervalu controls 24.9pc of the market, 0.2pc ahead of the British giant.

The big three - Dunnes, Tesco and SuperValu - collectively account for three quarters of all grocery shopping in Ireland.

They are looking over their shoulders at discounters Lidl and Aldi, with their 16.9pc share showing fast growth since their arrival here.

Grocery spending is one of the biggest household outlays, an average of €7,500 p.a. for a family-of-four. It can account for even more than mortgage or childcare costs in many circumstances.

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So shopping around is more important than ever. Most of us are far less brand loyal to one shop than we used to be, however time pressures and geography mean that many families don't have the luxury of hopping from store to store to get the best bargains.

They may spot a deal for say, meat or fruit and veg or that week's 'special', but few will traipse far away from their location to avail of it if the cost of petrol negates the offer.

So cutting back on grocery costs is usually in the form of bulk buying, two for one offers, using loyalty cards or buying online.

I know many families who club together to buy non-perishables like nappies and detergents in bulk. It makes sense as they can share them out and get the benefit of the super-big packages which often carry a discount.

Likewise, the benefits of doing the same for alcohol are obvious: many supermarkets offer one bottle of wine when you buy say, a case or half case, but if you can't afford that much in one go, sharing with a friend is the solution.

Do bear in mind though that it's only a bargain if you will use it. Buying four punnets of strawberries when you'll only ever eat two is silly, even if it's a bargain price.

When it comes to food, we waste a huge amount - around 1 million tonnes every year according to stopfoodwaste.ie.

About 60pc of this is avoidable as it's due to over-buying food which goes off before we can eat it.

Only having time to do one 'big' supermarket shop a week can be to blame - and the answer is to buy perishable food locally.

I stopped buying most of my meat, fruit and veg in supermarkets a long time ago.

A visit to my local butcher and greengrocer which I'm lucky enough to have beside each other in my village, means I only buy what I need, when I need it.

Yes, I have to go more than once, but I'm not trailing around a vast supermarket getting tempted by other things; it's just a quick in-and-out.

Impulse buying accounts for much of our over-spend. That lovely bakery smell as you walk in the door isn't by accident, nor are the treats at the checkout, so it's good to only shop on a full stomach and with a list.

delivery

Both will ensure you keep distractions to a minimum. Never shop with children - they'll drive you nuts and ensure you spend more than you expected.

But if you can't leave them at home, the answer lies online. I know lots of mums who may not work outside the home, but still choose to grocery shop on the internet precisely to avoid having to lug buggies and trolleys around.

If you're at home during the day you can also avail of lower cost delivery. With Supervalu it's just €3 while Tesco offers as many deliveries as you like for €10-per-month. Dunnes is about to launch its service soon.

There are free 'Click and Collect' options too where your shopping is done for you and you simply pick it up. Remember, the vast bulk of our shop is identical every week.

Other ways to save include using your loyalty card - the big three have one, as do many Spar shops giving discounts and money off coupons.

The biggest saving is using your feet though - and switching to the competition when prices rise.

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