Page 5819 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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(2) What were the key findings of each of these surveys.

(3) What other pricing surveys (a) does the department undertake on a regular basis and (b) has the department undertaken on an ad hoc basis since 2001.

(4) What have been the key findings from these surveys.

(5) What consideration has the department given to the Federal Government’s creeping acquisitions policy.

(6) Has the department provided the Treasurer with advice on how the Federal Government’s creeping acquisition policy will interact with the ACT’s Supermarket Review; if so, what was that advice.

Ms Gallagher: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Department of Treasury has conducted two informal surveys on grocery prices since 2001. The first survey was conducted on 16 April 2008, and the second survey was conducted on 4 June 2009.

(2) In the context of their findings, it is important to recognise the limitations of these informal surveys.

The small number of stores and products surveyed limits the strength of conclusions that can be drawn. Consequently, commenting on overall competitiveness of the ACT market based on the survey is difficult.

The surveys were only based on price and do not take into account other factors on which retailers may compete such as location, opening hours, or service quality.

Further, the surveys were undertaken on one day, hence do not take into account changes to prices over time.

The surveys did not provide findings per se, given their limitations, however the following observations were noted in the survey of 16 April 2008:

Overall it would appear that Coles and Woolworths have a nationwide, or at least an ACT region pricing policy. Aldi has an explicit nationwide policy while Supabarn also appears to have at least an ACT consistent regional pricing policy. IGA prices vary considerably between stores and are distinctly higher than the other major chains.

The most expensive supermarkets were the IGAs, while the cost of the basket in the full-line supermarket chains (ie Coles, Woolworths, and Supabarn) was not appreciably different.

The link between lower prices in lower socioeconomic areas was not supported by the data. Charnwood, Lanyon and Queanbeyan supermarkets, which are located in areas of relatively lower socioeconomic population, were all at the lower end of price for the basket of goods. While Chisholm supermarket which is also located in an area of relatively lower socioeconomic population was around the middle of the price spectrum.

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