Spot Check: Prices Vary Widely Among Branches of Same Supermarket Chain

Simultaneous spot checks by TheMarker at different branches of the same supermarket chains revealed wildly varying prices on identical produce items, sometimes costing over 10 times more at one location than another.

The chains estimate that Israeli households will spend an average of NIS 100 on fruits and vegetables in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, but apparently this might actually depend more on where the shopping is done than on how much is bought.

Produce prices at two Super-sol Deal locations in Be'er Sheva were checked on Sunday within minutes of each other.

TheMarker checked the centrally located Wolfson Street branch and the branch in the Kiryat Yehudit industrial area at the southern approach to the city. Prices observed at the latter store were higher across the board and totaled 90% more overall.

Greenhouse tomatoes costing NIS 9.99 per kilogram at the Kiryat Yehudit store were priced at just 79 agorot per kilogram at the Wolfson Street location. Packaged carrots cost NIS 4.49 per kilogram at the out-of-the-way location, but just a small fraction - 30 agorot - at the midtown store.

It should be noted that while the Kiryat Yehudit branch sports a huge parking lot, it is difficult to access using public transportation. The Wolfson Street branch, on the other hand, is within steps of most municipal bus lines, all leading to the city market just two stops away.

Large price differentials were also found at Mega Bool when comparing the branch on Yigal Alon Street in Tel Aviv and the chain's store in Acre.

Cucumbers were priced at 95 agorot per kilogram at the former, where competition is fiercer, and NIS 4.99 per kilogram at the latter, where competition is relatively weak. Tomatoes at the Tel Aviv location cost NIS 3.99, while at the Acre branch the price was set at NIS 6.99.

Mega's responded: "Despite the rise in vegetable prices, the Mega chain decided in this period leading into the holidays to sell its vegetable produce at low and attractive prices, sometimes even offered to customers at below their purchase cost - tomatoes, for example. In addition, the chain conducts, at the local level, a range of other promotions unique to each region."

Super-sol declined comment.

MK Amir Peretz (Labor ) recently submitted a bill, which passed preliminary reading, requiring retail chains to advertise uniform prices for all their branches throughout the country. The law, however, won't affect price specials offered for a limited time.