A ten-cent difference in the price of a carton of milk may not seem important, but these small amounts can add up over a year. In fact, there can be an annual variation of as much as 909 euros for the average family, depending on the supermarket in which they shop, according to the latest 'Compra maestra' report by the OCU consumer organisation, which analysed 1,137 supermarkets in Spanish cities. The report includes 35 in Malaga city and Marbella, and shows that the cheapest of those was Alcampo, in Marbella, followed by three Mercadona stores in Malaga: the ones in Avenida Arroyo de los Ángeles, Vialia and Calle Villanueva del Rosario.
This was not a survey of every supermarket in the country, but a representative sample in cities, large towns and on the Internet. To be included, they had to fulfil certain criteria: they had to sell the products which are listed in the OCU's 'shopping basket' of 233 items, divided into three categories: fresh foods, packaged leading brand items and economic products (these are the cheapest in each supermarket in a series of generic categories, and may or may not be own brands, for example a one-litre carton of milk). Some supermarkets were therefore not included because they don't stock all the products on the list.
How does the ranking work? The cheapest store in Spain was given a score of 100, and the others were rated in comparison with that. For example, Malaga city scored an average of 116, so its prices are 16 per cent more expensive than the cheapest supermarket in the country. In comparison with other cities, Malaga's prices are medium-low. They are higher than Almeria, Granada and Jaén, but about the same as Seville and Huelva.
This year, the cheapest supermarket in Spain is Dani in Granada, followed by Alcampo in Vigo. The most expensive once again this year are the Sánchez Romero chain in Madrid, the Ulabox online store and Sorli Discau in Barcelona.
The cheapest chains are Dani, Cash & Fresh and Alcampo. Locally, Maskom in Malaga is ranked third, after Dani and Deza. If the OCU had also included supermarkets in other places in Malaga province, instead of just Malaga and Marbella, it is likely that the Dani supermarkets in Fuengirola and Antequera would also have been ranked among the cheapest.
The cost of the OCU shopping basket has risen on average by 0.1 per cent in the past year. Lidl, however, is the chain whose prices have increased most (4.3%), followed by Maxi Dia (1.8%) and Alimerka (1.6%). Those whose prices have dropped the most are BM Urban (-3.2%), Lupa (-2.9%) and Más y Más (-2.3%).