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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stretching the Euro

Spain used to be the country where one could live well for a fraction of the costs in Northern Europe. The foreign owners in Spain were stretching their pension payments.
This is no longer so, specially after the introduction of the Euro, that many owners of restaurants, bars and shops simplified by calculating the Euro at 100 of the old Pesetas, instead of the official exchange rate of 166.

In the meantime many new and bigger supermarkets have pushed out the small shops, launching great publicity campaigns to attract clients, and inventing all the time new “special offers” to confuse the buyers.

The Spanish consumer organisation OCU has placed the prices of the different supermarket chains under their magnifying glass, and arrived at interesting conclusions of great interest also to the foreigners living in Spain.

Model of valuation

OCU has grouped the prices of the supermarket chains in two groups: What you pay for brand products, and the prices of products on offer. We have to add that some of the chains are not represented all over the country. Some can be found only in the north, others are stronger in the south, some go for the bigger cities, others for the smaller villages.

The investigators gave the chain with the lowest prices in each of the two group the valuation 100, and then ranked the others in relation to that chain. They found that Cuenca is the place in Spain with the lowest prices. Pamplona is 11% more expensive.
Teruel, an inland province, has the cheapest fish, no one can beat Soria when it comes to fruits and vegetables. That the supermarkets in Avila, a province famous for its cattle, has the best prices on meat, is more logical.

The most expensive supermarkets can be found in the towns of Pamplona (Navarra), Las Palmas (Canary Islands), Bilbao (Vizcaya) and San Sebastian (Guipuzcoa).

The ranking

For brand products, Supermarkets Dani is ranked as the cheapest, with 100 points, followed by Alimerka (106), Herbu (107) and Alcampo (108). Mercadona and Carrefour have both a respectable rating of 110, Intermarche 111, Eroski 112 and Caprabo 119. Almost at the bottom of the ranking can be found El Corte Ingles med 127 points.

When it comes to prices on special offers, the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive goods is even clearer. The best prices were found in Plus Supermarkets, given 100 points, followed by Carrrefour (106), Lidl (107), Aldi (110). Alcampo (114), Dia and Eroski (116), Intermarche (118) and Mercadona (120). Again, the Corte Ingles is almost at the bottom of the ranking, with 173 points.