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Survey: 65% of consumers compare prices before making their weekly food purchases

To mark six months since the launch of its Consumer Council Patrol project, the Israel Consumer Council checked the purchasing habits of Israeli consumers: an increase of 20% in the number of consumers who view price as the most important component of a purchase; about 50% of consumers responded that the first consideration in choosing where to buy is price.

The food consumption habits and weekly shopping habits of the Israeli consumer have been revealed. A survey, conducted to mark six months since the launch of the Consumer Council Patrol project, uncovered a number of interesting facts about the consumption habits of Israel’s citizens. The survey was conducted by the Geocartography survey company, among a representative sample of 500 respondents, men and women, aged 18 and above.

About 65% responded that they compare prices before buying. 38.5% decide on where to buy based on advertisements in the newspapers, on radio and on television. 21% make use of price comparison websites. 16% check the supermarket chains’ own websites.

About 50% of consumers responded that the primary consideration in choosing to buy at a particular shop is the price. This is an increase of about 20% in comparison to a year ago – last year’s survey showed a figure of 41% of the population, for whom price was the most important element of the purchase.

57.4% of those surveyed feel that today there are more options for price comparison before buying. Over the past 6 months, the Consumer Council Patrol has provided the general public with data that makes for more intelligent purchasing choices.

About 41% of consumers do their supermarket shopping within a distance of 2 km from home. About 53% of them will travel up to 3 km. Some time ago, the Consumer Council Patrol carried out a special investigation – “Short Distance, Big Money” – which showed that changing one’s shopping location by even a few hundred meters could save consumers thousands of shekels per year. In the Sharon region, sensitivity to price is lower, and so consumers there also travel less distance to shop (buying close to home): only 39.9% said that the most important thing for them was the lower price, while 49% of Sharon residents travel less than 2 km to do their shopping.

The religious/traditional sector is more sensitive to price than the secular or the haredi sectors: religious – 53.3%, secular – 45%, haredi – 48.8%.
Who travels less? Religious and haredi consumers do their shopping within walking distance of home: 42.5% of them shop within a radius of 1 kilometer. Similarly, those with below-average incomes travel less – 52% shop within a radius of 2 km, and 37% shop within 1 km of home.

Those aged 55+ shop near where they live – 48.4% shop within a radius of 2 km.

Women are more likely than men to shop near home (46% of women shop within a radius of 2 km, compared with 36% for men).

76% of consumers responded that they would like to receive the results of price comparisons.

As a result of the survey, which showed that a majority of consumers would like to receive the results of the weekly price comparisons, the Consumer Council Patrol is arranging to send the results out by e-mail to those signing up for the service.

Another investigation by the Council showed that, if the average family would move to use price-controlled items, rather than those not subject to price controls, they could save approximately 1,900 shekels per year. According to figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the annual savings to the Israeli economy from such a move would be about 1,850,000,000 shekels.
For the average household, the annual saving would come to 1,884 shekels.
For a household of 4 persons, the annual saving would come to 2,256 shekels.
For a household of 6 persons, the annual saving would come to 3,384 shekels.

The Consumer Council Patrol, comprising 56 active patrol volunteers, began operations in February 2013. The volunteers go out each week to check on approximately 160 points of sale (supermarkets and minimarkets throughout Israel), so that, over a two-week cycle, they carry out comprehensive checks of 360 points of sale. There are 77 towns that are checked regularly, from Dimona in the south to Kiryat Shemona in the north. To date, 3639 inspections have been carried out, and 147 different products have been checked.
The basket of products checked each week comprises around 40 items: 20 of them permanently on the list, with the rest changing from time to time.
In addition, special investigations were also made by the Consumer Council Patrol: the prices for services at Israel’s beaches, the influence of the increase in Value Added Tax, price differentials within the same city (“Short Distance, Big Money”), and so on.

In parallel, special price comparisons were carried out for: fruit and vegetables (comparison between markets, greengrocers, and supermarket chains); hamentashen for Purim; baby products; sugar-free products; cleaning supplies; wine; dairy desserts and snacks; soft drinks; packaged vegetables; and so on.

For the benefit of the consumer public, Consumer Council Patrol carries out special investigations prior to the holidays, checking typical shopping baskets for Israel Independence Day, for Pesach and for Shavuot.

Another aspect of the Patrol’s activities is to investigate consumer wrongs, identifying areas in which consumers may be harmed, and reporting on them to the relevant businesses. After identification of a business that may be injuring consumers, the business is sent a letter, asking for a response, and a warning before the matter is passed to the Fair Trade Authority or publication on the Consumer Council Patrol website. The success rate in this area is particularly high: most of the businesses responded to being contacted by the Patrol, and changed the problematic signs. Ongoing inspections at points of sale are also made – here the Patrol looks at price marking, deceptive sales signs, the presence of signs indicating price-controlled foods or signs indicating the business’s returns policy, price marking on supermarket and minimarket shelves and displays, and so on.

Adv. Ehud Peleg, CEO of the Consumer Council: “The Israel Consumer Council, with its modest budget and its dedicated professional staff, provides various services to the consumer public valued in the millions of shekels each year. After only a short period of operation, price comparisons by the Consumer Council Patrol have already saved the Israeli consumer a great deal of money, and made it easier for him to cope with the cost of living. The comparative data provided to the public by the Council helps consumers make purchasing decisions in a more intelligent way, even before leaving home, and choose to shop where they will get the best value for money. The corresponding actions by the public, based on this information, have also begun to have an effect on the supermarket chains, in terms of their pricing policies. The supermarkets are beginning to take into account the consumer’s ability to now compare prices more easily.”

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The Israel Consumer Council is the largest consumer organization in Israel. It is a statutory, non-profit corporation which works to defend consumers and protect their rights, by handling complaints, seeking solutions...