Your Money Matters: Which Romford supermarket has the lowest prices?
- Credit: Archant / Google Streetview
Which Romford supermarket is charging more than twice as much as their rivals for a bag of apples?
And which one is charging less than half as much for a bag of pasta?
As rocketing energy prices put a strain on household bills and cause rising food prices, inflation hit seven per cent this month – the highest jump in 30 years.
The Havering Volunteer Centre is preparing for a spike in demand, it said, and is currently setting up an energy voucher scheme, offering "emergency assistance" to people with pre-payment systems.
As part of our Your Money Matters campaign, the Recorder visited the town centre with a shopping list of everyday items - from broccoli to tomato ketchup - to see which retailers were offering the best value for money.
We visited Lidl and Tesco Extra in the High Street, Asda in the Mercury Shopping Centre and Sainsbury’s in the Brewery complex.
The stores are all within walking distance of one another, meaning smart shoppers can nab the best bargains at all four without making multiple car journeys.
The Recorder will repeat this exercise as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, to see how prices are being affected.
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Rather than just looking for the cheapest products, we looked for a mixture of own-brand and popular brand items.
Lidl offered the best overall value for money, coming in cheapest or joint-cheapest for 13 of the items on our list.
However, it did not have a number of the branded items we were looking for in stock, such as Dove body wash, Tropicana juice and McCain French Fries.
Both Sainsbury’s and Asda had every item on our list in stock.
Sainsbury’s was cheapest or joint-cheapest for nine of them and Asda for eight.
Tesco Express was not the cheapest for any of the items we were looking for, unless you owned a club card, which could be used to get the joint-cheapest bottle of Casillero Del Diablo Chardonnay.
Both Tesco Express (with a club card) and Asda were charging £6.50 for the chardonnay, compared to £7.50 at Sainsbury’s.
While it did not stock a number of branded items, Lidl was by far the cheapest when it came to the household staples.
If you fancied a bacon sandwich for breakfast, the cost of a loaf of bread, a packet of bacon and bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup at Lidl was £4.00.
At Sainsbury’s it was £5.16 and at Asda it was £5.34.
At Tesco Extra it was £4.95 - but it only stocked a 425g bottle of Heinz ketchup, whereas at all the others we collected the prices for 700g bottles.
Per 100g, Tesco Extra’s Heinz ketchup was the most expensive in town and pro rata, it would have been the most expensive bacon sandwich.
If you were planning pasta for dinner, a bag of penne and a jar of Dolmio bolognese sauce would set you back £1.48 at Lidl, £2.25 at Asda, £2.40 at Tesco Express (or £2 with a club card) and £2.50 at Sainsbury’s.
As this was our first Your Money Matters shop, we have missed the price hikes which have already occurred – but market analysts Kantar said food price inflation in February was 4.3 per cent – the highest in a decade.
The Bank of England has predicted that 2022 will cause the worst deterioration in living standards since records began.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned in January that inflation would be higher in real terms for lower-income households, as they spend a higher proportion of their income on the necessities which are rocketing in price, such as energy, fuel and food.
The proportion of lower-income households’ budgets spent on gas and electricity alone is three times that spent by the highest-earning 10pc, it said.
However, food bank referrals in the first four months of 2022 were actually significantly lower than in 2021, said Rebecca Mazrreku at the Havering Volunteer Centre.
"The real impact is going to start from May," she said. "Rent, mortgages, gas and electric are all going up from April."
People can self-refer to the centre, said Rebecca, and shouldn't feel guilty about doing so.
"You shouldn't compare yourself to anybody else," she said. "Your need to survive is just as important as somebody else's."
*The Havering Volunteer Centre can be reached at 01708 922214.
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