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Do we know how much our everyday groceries cost?

Suits Me analyse the UK’s awareness of their food shopping spending

When you do your weekly shop, how cost-conscious are you of the items you pick up? It might not be something you think about; you know you need milk, eggs, and bread, so you put them in your trolley without a second thought, but how much do groceries cost

We asked 2,000 participants across the UK about the price of everyday supermarket items, and whether they checked the cost of their shopping when using contactless payment – after the UK increased its contactless limit in October 2021, it’s easier than ever to spend up to £100 without thinking twice. Our research found that less than two-thirds of Brits (62%) will always check the price of something when paying by contactless.

And when it comes down to finding out which items Brits are clueless about the cost of, we asked them about the below items:

  • Pint of milk
  • Loaf of white bread (800g)
  • Self-raising flour (1.5kg)
  • Spreadable butter (500g)
  • A dozen large, free-range eggs
  • An oven-ready roasting chicken
  • Beef mince (1kg)
  • Cheddar cheese (1kg)
  • Teabags (250g)
  • Instant coffee (100g)
  • Granulated sugar (1kg)
  • Potatoes (1kg)
  • Carrots (1kg)
  • One cucumber
  • One iceberg lettuce

In order to then find out how far off our participants were from the true cost, we collected price data for these items from the ONS, and also worked out the average price of these items across five major supermarkets: Morrisons, Sainsburys, Asda, Tesco, and Aldi.

PRODUCTAVERAGE SUPERMARKET COSTONS FIGURE (correct on 20th October 2021)AVERAGE COST FROM SURVEY PARTICIPANTS
Pint of milk £0.54 £0.43 £1.00
Loaf of white bread (800g) £0.54 £1.07 £1.20
Self-raising flour (1.5kg) £0.52 £0.59 £1.30
Spreadable butter (500g) £2.06 £3.28 £1.90
A dozen large, free-range eggs £2.06 £2.14 £1.90
An oven-ready roasting chicken £3.61 £2.76 £3.80
Beef mince (1kg) £4.74 £6.14 £3.30
Cheddar cheese (1kg) £4.73 £6.21 £3.10
Teabags (250g) £1.52 £1.99 £2.40
Instant coffee (100g) £1.51 £2.77 £2.70
Granulated sugar (1kg) £0.67 £0.71 £1.40
Potatoes (1kg) £0.62 £0.71 £1.60
Carrots (1kg) £0.41 £0.51 £1.10
One cucumber £0.49 £0.52 £0.80
One iceberg lettuce £0.49 £0.52 £0.90

On average, across all items, our participants were a whopping 124% off the mark when their predictions were compared against the supermarket average. They fared slightly better (110% out) when compared with the latest ONS figures on the cost of these items. However, in both cases survey participants guessed these basic items to be more than twice as expensive as they are.

Graph of ONS stats of cost of everyday items compared to what our participants thought they costed.

When compared to ONS figures, participants had the hardest time correctly guessing the price of beef mince and cheese – underestimating the cost of both items.

Compared to the ONS figure of £6.14 for 1kg of beef mince, our participants were way off the mark with an average guess of £3.30 – a shortfall of £2.84. Participants aged between 45 and 54 years old were the closest, with an average guess of £3.50 for this product. Yet shockingly, less than one in ten (9.7%) participants could correctly identify that 1kg of beef mince costs over £5.

The average guess from survey participants for a kilogram block of cheddar cheese was £3.10 – short of both the supermarket average of £4.73 and the ONS average of £6.21. Women were better at guessing the price of this product compared to men: Women averaged a guess of £3.40 compared to men predicting a cost of £3.10. And younger generations seem to have been caught by surprise at the cost of cheese; those aged 18-25 guessed £2.80, where those aged 65+ made an average guess that was 50p more expensive at £3.30

Graph of the ave. supermarket cost of everyday items compared to what our participants thought they costed.

On the flip side, Brits are best able to approximate the cost of bread. According to the latest ONS figures, a 800g loaf of white bread costs £1.07, and Brits were just 13p off with their average guess of £1.20.

Younger generations price bread the highest, with 25–34-year-olds estimating a loaf costs £1.40. Surprisingly, 3% of 18–24-year-olds think a loaf of white bread will set them back more than £5.

Older generations tend to be better at guessing the price of groceries in general; the ONS cost for a 1.5kg bag of self-raising flour is 59p, and while those aged 65+ estimated this to cost £1, younger generations were even further from the mark with 18-25-year-olds guessing £1.50, and 2% of 25-34-year-olds estimating a cost somewhere between £4.50 and £5.

The older generation were also better at guessing the price of milk, potatoes, and carrots compared to their younger counterparts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when looking at the different areas across the UK, people in London tend to overprice items the most. This is particularly significant when looking at their estimated cost for a cucumber and iceberg lettuce. The ONS quoted 52p as the cost for both and a supermarket average came out at 49p. However, compared to this, London residents estimated an average of £1 for a cucumber and £1.10 for an iceberg lettuce – approximately 50% higher on both counts.

With food prices currently on the rise, it could be that supply chain disruption is to blame for Brits’ overestimation when it comes to the price of basic groceries.

If you find yourself losing sight of the cost of everyday items and you think it may have something to do with the new contactless limit, read all about contactless payments and how they work here. We also make it easy to get hold of a debit card here at Suits Me – it takes just 10 minutes to apply and you could have the card within 3-5 working days.

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