Supermarket price war looms as two more stores go online

IRISH supermarket price wars will take to cyberspace next year with two of the country’s largest stores preparing to launch online sales.

SuperValu and Dunnes Stores plan to launch an online shopping presence with website development believed to be well under way at both companies.

Tesco and Superquinn already offer online purchasing and home delivery services. So when SuperValu and Dunnes go online consumers will be able to compare prices across all four from the comfort of their home — sparking a price war to benefit shoppers.

SuperValu, a division of the wholesalers Musgrave, has confirmed its plan to launch a purchasing website early in the new year while Dunnes Stores has so far refused to confirm the move but according to industry sources their site “is very much a work in progress”.

Dunnes Stores recently advertised for a marketing manager to oversee the development of an “effective ecommerce internet solution” for customers. Last year, the Government’s National Consumer Agency had to halt plans to develop an Irish price comparison site due to the project being deemed unviable with only two of the country’s big four grocery chains having an online sales presence.

With Irish consumers paying almost 30% more for food products than the EU average (only Denmark is more expensive) the possibly of increased online competition between the major supermarkets has been welcomed by Consumers Association of Ireland chief executive Dermott Jewell.

“This will be a key facilitator to making prices better when all can be compared online. It is will also make price comparison survey much easier than if a shopping basket of goods has to physically purchased on site,”

Online shopping systems have proved very costly for stores with Tesco not making a profit from its British venture, launched in 2000, until 2006.

The cost of groceries here has raised concern not only because of lost tax revenues, with cross-Border shopping but also wider economic impacts.

Labour Party consumer affairs spokesman Brendan Ryan said: “Ripoff food prices affect not just Irish residents, but tourists and potential tourists too. The more costly food is, the more expensive it is for any visitor, and as a result, we risk pricing ourselves out of the market. At a time when we need every visitor, value for money is a real concern.”

He added; “It is clear the Irish consumer is being ripped-off and we need to get to the bottom of this. The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Innovation and the National Consumer Agency should get to the bottom of this for once and for all and identify why our food bills are so high.”


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