The cheapest and most expensive supermarkets in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – Are you someone who always chooses the same supermarket for shopping? Simply because it is trusted and you know exactly where to find everything you need? Or because it is the closest? 

If so, then there is a good chance you can save a lot of money by doing your shopping more consciously and find out what are the cheapest supermarkets in Spain. Or even just by driving or walking a little further, or by shopping online. Especially in the current times when just about everything has become more expensive. Not only energy and petrol but also the daily groceries. 

It is not feasible for most people to constantly conduct comparative research on their own. That is why the Spanish consumer organisation OCU looked for the most expensive and cheapest supermarkets in Spain. The research was published Tuesday. 

Average price increase large chains 13% 

All major chains have increased their shopping cart prices by an average of 13%. Día and Mercadona are at the forefront in this regard. In various cities, Alcampo is the most affordable national supermarket chain and by doing your shopping at Amazon you save the most. 

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Despite the general price increase, you can still save significantly on your purchases if you choose the most affordable stores. According to OCU, these savings represent almost a fifth of the food budget of an average household (17.9%). 

Different types of shopping carts examined 

The average expenditure on groceries per household is €5,568. OCU bases the study on data on 239 food and drugstore products in 11,80 branches of 80 chains in 65 cities and on the Internet. The organisation examined the OCU basket, the fresh basket (fruit, vegetables, meat and fish), the brand basket (products from manufacturer brands) and the economic basket (cheapest products of the type in the supermarket concerned). 

Biggest shopping cart price increase ever 

The price increase of the shopping cart has never been greater than this year. OCU has been keeping this information up to date since 1988. Between May last year and May 2022, that increase was already 15.2%, as the consumer organisation announced earlier. 

The OCU points out that “strong price increases continued over the summer,” as evidenced by the August CPI, when inflation was at 10.5%, with food at its highest level since 1994 (up 13.8%), driven due to the increase in the cost of energy and raw materials. According to the OCU study, 64% of products have increased in price, especially sunflower oil, bananas, macaroni, olive oil and eggs. 

Average savings of almost €1,000 per year possible 

OCU concludes that in 2022 a Spanish family can save an average of €994 per year in the shopping cart, by consciously choosing the supermarket. This saving is 7.3% lower than last year due to a “greater homogeneity” of supermarkets and price increases in the cheapest chains. As a result, the difference with the most expensive has become smaller. 

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The cheapest supermarkets are Tifer, Dani, Family Cash, Alcampo and Supeco, while Sánchez Romero, Ulabox, Novavenda and Amazon are the most expensive. Alcampo is the cheapest option for shopping in 27 cities, followed by Mercadona (10) and Supeco (7). This is despite the fact that Mercadona and Día have registered the most price increases throughout the year because they have made their private brands more expensive. 

Biggest savings possible in Madrid and Alcobendas 

If you live in Madrid or Alcobendas you are in luck. There you can save the most on your groceries. In Madrid, the difference between buying in one place or another can be €3,529 per year; in Alcobendas, €2,977. In addition, making purchases via the internet can also bring you significantly better prices. Ordering your groceries online can save you up to €2,309, depending on the chosen website. 

Price increases are “quite homogeneous” according to OCU 

All chains are increasing prices and the increases are “quite homogeneous”, according to the OCU: an average of 13%. Those who increased prices the least are BM Urban (8.8%), Carrefour Express (8.5%) and Alimerka (8.5%). Día and Mercadona have increased their prices the most (about 16%). The weight of the price increases in the range of own brands is striking here. That has increased by an average of 16.4% this year. Manufacturer brands were up 11.3%. According to OCU, the conclusion here is that the large national chains have increased their prices more than the smaller regional chains. 

Alcampo and Mercadona 

Regional and national hypermarkets are the commercial formula where shopping is cheaper. These are followed by discount formulas, which are not the best option in the shopping cart for the first time. Alcampo is the cheapest alternative for shopping in 27 cities in the study, followed by Mercadona (in 10 cities) and Supeco in seven. In general, Family Cash, Alcampo, Supeco, Consum, Lidl, Mercadona, Carrefour, Aldi and Dia are the cheapest national chains. 

Cheapest and most expensive cities to do your shopping in Spain 

The cheapest cities are Ciudad Real and Vigo. Here is the cheapest supermarket in Spain: an Alcampo in Coia. On the list of the most expensive cities are Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, ​​Alcobendas, Girona and Madrid. Madrid has the most expensive supermarket in Spain: a Sánchez Romero on Calle de Arturo Soria. 

Per product 

95% of the products in the OCU shopping baskets have become more expensive compared to the prices of a year ago. The largest increases occurred in sunflower oil (+118%) and olive oil (+53%), flour (+50%) and all derived products such as pasta (+56%) or muffins (+75%). 

Bananas from the Canary Islands became no less than 64% more expensive. This may have to do with the volcanic eruption. The worst part is that the products most bought by families with the lowest incomes, those of the economic basket, have become more expensive by 18.7% on average. 

Dairy, chicken and rice have continued to rise 

The upward trend continued throughout the summer, especially in dairy and poultry. From May until the publication of the study, the litre of UHT whole milk has increased by 12.3%, margarine by 11.6% and chicken breast by 8.7%. Macaroni from the Gallo brand also continued to increase in price (8.5%). 

There is only a small group of 12 products that have come down in price. Some belong to the hygiene category (shampoo -5%) and others are fruits such as avocado (-10%) and kiwi (-6%). 

Prices are expected to continue to rise 

The OCU’s forecasts are not optimistic and expect food price increases as a result of the rise in energy and transport costs. The association has called for a temporary suspension of taxes on basic foodstuffs. 

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