Kiwis reveal how high grocery bills have spiked during Auckland lockdown

Reddit users showed spending overruns from $100 each week during the lockdown.
Reddit users showed spending overruns from $100 each week during the lockdown. Photo credit: GettyImages.

Grocery bills have gone up along with the COVD-19 alert level, social media users say.

In a post on Reddit on Wednesday, one Aucklander said they'd spent an extra $800 on groceries since the start of level 4 lockdown on August 18, inviting other users to comment on how much extra they'd spent.

"Did two big shops and spent roundabout [sic] a couple hundred more than usual overall. Only thing[s] we've bought more of are milk, bread and eggs because everyone's home for lunch now," one person said.

"I've noticed some things go up again since the lockdown though, and not just fresh fruit, veg and meat. At least the other things I've noticed haven't gone up a ton, just around 20c to 80c," another person said.

One person commented that their normal fortnightly shop costs around $200, but "last week it cost $400".  

Some of the extra cost came down to having to buy fruit, which was normally provided at work - and buying extra snacks to get through lockdown.  

"We're also buying a lot of coffee capsules to make up for not being able to get coffee at work. And the toastie maker is cranking every day, so we're going through a lot of cheese", the person said.

Comments from other Reddit users showed spending overruns from $100 each week, to "double" what they normally spend with teenagers at home for lunch.

But not everyone agreed they were spending more money overall.  

One person said their shop seemed to be at least $100 or more higher for two adults. But this was because they got "a week's worth at least in one delivery", whereas normally, they'd pop to the supermarket "every few days".

Has the price of groceries gone up - or are we spending more, less often?

Lynda Moore, a financial adviser known as the Money Mentalist, said everyday spending is easy for shoppers to overlook. 

A weekly cost, such as groceries, is much more noticeable.

People who usually spend money on takeaways and dining out need to factor this into their lockdown supermarket spend.  

"There's that awareness of handing over the credit card for $300 versus spending in smaller, regular amounts," Moore said.

She suggests shoppers jump onto internet banking and sort their pre-lockdown transactions over a two-week period. Add up all food-related spending and notice the number of transactions compared to lockdown.

"If pre-lockdown, you were an everyday shopper, where now you're only going once a week, you're going less frequently so the spend is going to be bigger," Moore added.

What do supermarkets say?

The two big supermarket chains told Newshub they haven't hiked prices during lockdown.

A Countdown spokesperson said over 6000 products were on special on Friday. Specials were shown within its online mailer. 

Prices change from time-to-time due to "weather, seasonality, supply and demand, global shipping challenges and cost increases from suppliers," the Countdown spokesperson said.

Antoinette Laird, head of corporate affairs at Foodstuffs NZ said despite restrictions and challenges, Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square have "the same amount of specials as usual". These change each Monday.

Shoppers are advised to check specials online first, choose seasonal fruit and vegetables, such as avocados and stock up on freezable items while they're on special (e.g. frozen veggies, berries, butter and meat).