Thursday, November 05, 2009

"Where d'ya get it?" In Sydney, where the toilet paper's cheap

...and much else besides


Rice, 1kg $2.47 $3.06
Eggs, dozen $4.07 $4.47
Cheese, 500g sliced $5.20 $5.45
Milk chocolate, 200g $3.46 $3.77
Instant coffee, 150g $7.70 $7.89
Laundry powder, 1kg $5.88 $6.21

ABS 6403.0.55.001

IF YOU'RE looking for bargains in Sydney, stay put. The wash-up from the financial crisis has left Sydney's grocery prices the cheapest on the east coast.

The Bureau of Statistics' September quarter update shows that Sydney prices are cheaper than Melbourne's in 33 of the 51 comparisons published.

The difference is particularly marked in the price of staples such as milk, cheese, bread, breakfast cereal and rice, with a one kilogram bag of rice priced at $3.06 in Melbourne but just $2.47 in Sydney.

The prices are collected from a wide range of outlets in different parts of each city in order to calculate the consumer price index.

The raw data shows Brisbane and Melbourne prices are typically higher than Sydney's, and Brisbane's prices are often the highest of the lot...

In the instances where Sydney prices are higher, the margin is usually slight, suggesting that lower economic growth and higher unemployment in NSW is restraining Sydneysider's ability to spend.

The NSW economy scarcely grew in the year to June, whereas Victoria's grew significantly.

Although Sydney house prices have been climbing more slowly than those in Melbourne, they remain the highest in the nation, further limiting the ability of Sydneysiders to spend.

Among the bargains identified by the Bureau of Statistics were laundry detergent a one kilogram pack cost $5.88 in Sydney compared with $6.21 in Melbourne; cheese a 500g sliced packet cost $5.20 in Sydney and $5.45 in Melbourne; and chocolate a steal in Sydney at $3.46 for a 200g block compared with $3.77 in Melbourne and $3.87 in Brisbane.

Sydney's highest relative prices were for meat: a one-kilogram leg of lamb sold for $10.46 rather than $9.86 in Melbourne, and a kilogram of chuck steak sold for $10.81 rather than $10.45. A kilogram of beef sausages cost $6.13 in Sydney compared with $5.81 in Melbourne.

Retail spending continued to climb in trend terms in September, falling a little in seasonally adjusted terms as the effects of the December and March stimulus payments wound down.

In a speech to be delivered in Melbourne today the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, will say that while the stimulus payments "helped keep the cash registers ticking over" it is up to business to pick up the slack as they wind down.

"Our stimulus is designed to gradually scale back as a private sector recovery takes hold throughout 2010," his speaking notes say.

"Its peak impact on growth occurred in the June quarter 2009, and its impact on growth is already moderating. It will actually begin to subtract from growth from the March quarter 2010 because of the very fact that it is temporary."

Mr Swan warns that private business investment is set to be $42 billion lower through the downturn than it would otherwise have been.

"We are investing to support the economy when it is needed, and withdrawing as it recovers," he says.

Building approvals continued to climb in September and are now up 27 per cent since the start of the year.

Approvals for housing grew by a mild 0.3 per cent over the month, with approvals for units up a strong 15 per cent.

Published in today's SMH

Shane Wright, economics editor of the West Australia adds:

Perth grocery prices are skyrocketing, with some daily essentials up to 40 per cent dearer than a year ago, putting pressure on cash-strapped families.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the average cost of 1kg rice over the past three months has jumped more than 9 per cent in a year, while a 1kg leg of lamb has jumped almost 17 per cent.

Across almost all meat products there have been sizeable price rises, from a 17.4 per cent lift in the cost of a kilo of pork leg to a 5.8 per cent jump in the price of a kilo of chicken. Only the humble sausage has fallen in price, down an average 6¢ a kilo.

Even feeding a dog is getting more expensive, with the average cost in Perth 19.1 per cent higher than a year ago.

Ordinarily prices in Darwin are by far the highest among the nation's capital cities.

But Perth now lays claim to top spot for a shopping-trolley load of goods, including butter, self-raising flour, chuck steak, oranges and canned salmon.

The city is now cheapest only for petrol - a position it has claimed since Queensland axed its fuel subsidy because of Budget constraints - and laundry and dishwashing detergent. Perth also has the cheapest canned baked beans.

The jump in prices is at odds with official inflation figures, released last week, which showed overall consumer prices in Perth rising 0.8 per cent over the September quarter, the second lowest of all capital cities.

That figure takes in a much broader range of costs rather than grocery prices.

The jump in prices has been obvious to Kingsley mother-of-three Linda Firth. She said that where a year ago her fortnightly shopping would cost about $200 it was now at least $300, excluding daily necessities and meat.

The lift in prices had been offset by big falls in petrol prices and interest rates, but with signs they both may increase, it meant shopping in coming months might be tougher.

While prices had generally risen, there was some respite for shoppers.

A two litre bottle of milk is, on average, 8 per cent or 28¢ cheaper while the price of a 200g block of chocolate is now 11 per cent cheaper than a year ago.

Only chocoholics in Canberra enjoy cheaper chocolate than their Perth counterparts.

And the cost of soap has not changed, on average, since the September quarter of last year.

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