Despite Promise, Super-Sol Still Charging More in Periphery

Of the 25 products TheMarker checked at the beginning of the week, 18 were more expensive at Super-Sol Deal in Arad than in Jerusalem.

Three months after the Super-Sol retail chain vowed to equate prices in branches in outlying areas with prices in the center of the country, it hasn't completed the job.

Of the 25 products TheMarker checked at the beginning of the week, 18 were more expensive at Super-Sol Deal in the peripheral town of Arad than they were at the Super-Sol Deal branch in Jerusalem. The remaining seven products cost the same in both branches.

Of those items that were more expensive, the average price difference was 4.5%. Including those that cost the same, the Super-Sol in Arad was 3.5% more expensive than that in Jerusalem.

That may seem like a small sum - which is what Super-Sol had to say in response - and it certainly is less than the 30% price differences TheMarker found over the summer.

However, since the average family spends NIS 2,500 a month on groceries, families in Arad are spending an extra NIS 1,000 every year if they shop at Super-Sol.

For example, Pinuk shampoo cost NIS 15.99 in Arad, and NIS 13.99 in Jerusalem: that is a 14% difference.

A 200-gram bag of Bissli snack food cost NIS 7.29 in Arad, versus NIS 6.39 in Jerusalem, also a 14% difference.

A plastic container of Shahar chocolate spread cost 5% more in Arad, at NIS 12.69, compared to NIS 11.99 in Jerusalem, and a 500-gram bag of Osem pasta was NIS 6.29, versus NIS 5.99.

Even products from Super-Sol's private label cost more in Arad - a kilo of sugar was NIS 4.69, compared to NIS 4.59 in Jerusalem, a 2% difference.

Over the summer, TheMarker ran a series of price checks at supermarkets in different parts of the country. Prices at Super-Sol Deal in Sderot, for instance, were 30% more than those in Jerusalem, and prices in Dimona and Nes Tziona were 30% more than in Ramat Gan. TheMarker also found price differences of 15% between different branches of Super-Sol's competitor Mega. The price difference seemed to depend mainly on how many competing supermarkets there were in the area, not on the residents' socioeconomic status.

Arad has three supermarkets - a Super-Sol Deal, a Mega Bool and a Mega Ba'ir - while Jerusalem has 59, according to economic consulting firm Czamanski Ben Shahar. In addition, rent in Arad's industrial zone averages between NIS 40 and NIS 70 per square meter per month, while in Jerusalem it's between NIS 75 and NIS 100.

The price comparisons prompted unions at large factories in the south to threaten to boycott Super-Sol and Mega if they didn't offer them the same prices as in the center of the country. In response, the supermarket chains promised to do so.

While Super-Sol has indeed reduced price gaps, they're not gone entirely.

MK Amir Peretz (Labor ) recently introduced a bill stating that supermarket chains would have to offer the same prices throughout the country.