Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do you compare prices?

According to a Globes report, 31% of Israelis do not bother to compare prices when they shop.

Reasons vary from "I believe there are no real differences in prices" to "I don't know how to compare prices" (and many in between).

As a dedicated frugal homemaker, it is hard for me to understand how so many people just pick up items and put them in their carts, without checking if they could be paying less buying a different, yet comparable product.

I started thinking it may be time to explain the ins and outs of price comparisons.

Some things are simple: Produce is almost always priced as shekels/kg. It is easy to tell where you are getting a better deal when it's priced this way. (Some items are priced per piece or per bundle/pkg, like celery, herbs, and the occasional specialty item, and these are somewhat more difficult to compare, but not impossible.) Cheese at the cheese counter is priced as shekels/kg. It is nearly always cheaper to buy cheese from the cheese counter than it is to buy packaged cheese from the refrigerated section. Meat and Chicken are also priced in shekels/kg, and you can easily compare.

It's the things that come in various types of packages and weights that always trip people up. I carry a little calculator in my purse. It's been there for so many years, and it's been used so much that I've managed to rub most of the numbers off!

My calculator. It uses solar power with a battery back up. I've never had to change the battery.

Some things are easy - legumes usually come in 500g or 1kg bags (but watch out, I have also seen 400g bags!). You can simply compare the prices by multiplying the price of a 500g bag by 2, and comparing that to the price of a 1 kg bag. Sometimes it will come out a LOT more expensive, and sometimes you may be surprised to discover that it is cheaper to buy 2 500g bags than 1 larger 1 kg bag. If you have a 400g bag to compare, multiply that by 2.5 to get the cost of 1 kg.

Become inseparable from your calculator. if you divide the price by the weight, you will get a comparable value. Just be sure you know if you are comparing grams or kilograms. It would not be fair to figure out the price per kg for one bag of rice and for the other to find out price per gram.

One other thing a lot of people do - keep a price book. If you are lucky enough to live near a few different stores, you can start to keep track of prices in each store. That way you can figure out which store has the best deals FOR YOU. Not the "shopping cart" some organization assumes you want to buy, but the items you actually buy. For example, I know that I can usually find whole wheat flour at Mega for 5.05/kg, at Yesh for 5.65/kg, and at Osher Ad for 4.00/kg...

When prices change, be sure to take note of the new prices. Also you may want to get to know the local sales rhythm - I've noticed honey can be found for much less than usual in the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashana, so that's a good time to stock up on honey.

Of course, some stores have price wars and that changes the game entirely. But staples like rice and flour and beans are rarely the discounted items. So it always pays to know what the normal price point is, and when and where it is worth it to stock up!

Are you a dedicated comparison shopper? Do you check price comparison websites or store ads before you go to the store? I'd love to hear about your strategies!

Some useful websites:

WebFlyer - where you can check ads for nearly every store!

Pricez - people report prices for various products at various stores, so you can see where the deals are

HaSuper - compares online supermarkets

Zap Market - compares online supermarkets


  1. You shouldn't need your calculator. By law in Israel, supermarkets need to display the price per 100g for each item on the shelf, and I find that they do for 95% of the items (at least in the main chains). If your supermarket doesn't, then speak to the manager. And if they still don't, then report them!

    1. Hi Nicole,
      You are right, I use my calculator less frequently now than I used to, but I have found that when an item is on sale, the shelf price doesn't get changed, they just put a sign up advertising the sale but not breaking down the price per 100g. There are some items - mostly refrigerator items - that are consistently marked.

  2. I use israflyer.com to check ads and compare prices. You may want to ad it to your useful site list.


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