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New Woolworths and Coles analysis reveals $406 grocery shop shock for millions of Aussies

Being able to afford groceries is one of the biggest stressors Aussies face. Here's just how much they've gone up since 2022.

We all feel the pinch while buying groceries these days, but the latest inflation data reveals just how hard some everyday staples are hitting our wallets. Over the past two years, essential food items have seen shocking price hikes that far outstrip the average rise in wages.

Finder's analysis of CPI figures, released first to Yahoo Finance, paints a worrying picture. Leading the pack is a staggering 31 per cent price increase for oils and fats. Breakfast cereals, bread, cheese, eggs, and milk have all jumped between 22 per cent and 25 per cent.

At the other end of the scale, vegetables and beef are only up 4 per cent, and a lack of exports to China has kept domestic wine prices down, only increasing by 3 per cent.

The everyday impact of rising grocery prices

To see how these percentages affect your wallet, let's look at a typical grocery basket.

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I've calculated the average 2024 price of 21 items across Woolworths and Coles. Using the Australian Bureau of Statistics Consumer Price Index data, I've also estimated their 2022 cost.

Grocery cost analysis by Finder.
Grocery cost analysis by Finder. (Finder)

Note that these items represent a range of inflation sub-categories, not a typical Aussie family's weekly shop, and prices are examples rather than exact costs for individual items or brands.

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This simple basket now costs around $406, a sharp increase from $361 just two years ago.

That's over a 12 per cent jump – and your personal experience may be even higher depending on what you buy.

Sadly, this rise is barely offset by the slight decrease in lamb prices, the only saving on our list.

These increases dwarf the roughly 8 per cent average wage growth across Australia, leaving many struggling to keep up.

Skyrocketing financial stress

Unsurprisingly, Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker reveals a massive spike in financial anxiety caused by groceries.

This stress has more than doubled from around 15 per cent two years ago to a concerning 40 per cent today. This is a similar percentage to the number of households feeling financial stress because of the cost of their rent or mortgage - showing that keeping a roof over your head and food on the table are the main two causes of concern for Aussies in 2024.

Coles and Woolworths
Coles and Woolworths (AAP)

How can I reduce the cost of my weekly grocery shop?

While there's no magic solution to inflation, there are ways to save when it comes to the grocery bill.

  • Compare the apps - Downloading both the Woolies and Coles shopping apps to your phone will allow you to compare the live on-shelf prices of your nearest stores, enabling you to avail of the specials that best suit you.

  • Buy in bulk - Retailers cycle through deals. Bulk buying when your favourite brand hits the lowest price gives you the “special’ price all year round.

  • Buy at the end of the day - Supermarkets tend to reduce prices of items to clear towards the end of the day, by as much as 50 per cent. Shopping last minute can be a great way to fill the trolley on a budget - but be sure to check expiry dates.

  • Expand your search - Woolies CEO Brad Banducci recently said that their main rivals are no longer just Coles and Aldi, but new online retailers like Amazon - and he’s right. You will often find pantry items on Amazon significantly cheaper than in Woolies or Coles, with next day delivery for many households. Better yet - if you subscribe to regular deliveries, you'll get a further 10 per cent off (and you can then immediately cancel the subscription).

Though individual actions can only go so far, grocery inflation is a complex issue influenced by global factors.

Even as inflation slows, prices are unlikely to drop quickly.

Smart shopping tactics, like the ones mentioned above, can give you back some power as a consumer, especially when budgets are tight.