Hypermarkets Put To The Test

Updated: 30 Jun 2009
Hypermarkets Put To The Test

By Rachel Jena

Everything about hypermarkets screams for attention: their weekend advertisements and gargantuan façades to their uniformly stacked towers of products. At Carrefour in Tropicana Mall it’s their home theatre system department that’s demanding my attention. The quadruple bass of the speakers threatens to burst my eardrums and I’m about to start a comparison of which hypermarket offers the best deals in town.

It’s a timely task considering the financial gloom. These stores promise better savings than regular supermarkets, so with my mission marked out (a grocery list of ten items) and weapons at hand (pen, paper, calculator), I’m ready to battle.

Round One, Carrefour!
I zoom past the initial distraction at Carrefour – a masterfully dressed row of mannequins in different coloured towels (I never knew there were so many ways to look stylish after a bath) – but quickly move on to my grocery list. The layout here is simple enough, though the in-store music is dire. They do stock ample homebrands and even a selection of items (dry items) from France, where Carrefour is actually based. Special promotions are frequent and customers can collect Real Reward points for all their purchases.

This hypermarket recorded the lowest prices for sugar, bin bags, and was tied with Tesco for rice, cooking oil, and toilet paper. However, your regular 1.5L bottle of cola here was the most expensive. Goes to show that hypermarkets do draw you in with mega-saving deals, but catch you elsewhere.

Getting here wasn’t difficult and the Tropicana Mall is brand new, so crowds aren’t as manic as elsewhere. Purchases of at least RM30 in a single receipt promise you two hours of free parking here, though I actually have trouble locating the exit (is this intended?) until an obliging member of staff points the way (score one point for customer service) and I am off to the next battleground. I mean, hypermarket.

Total Bill: RM83.47

Round Two, Giant!
Giant, Kelana Jaya, uses warm lighting that makes the ambiance welcoming. You’d almost forget you were in a hypermarket if not for the alarming number of green flags, labels, and banners to remind you every step of the way exactly where you are. Products swamp every inch of the space and it is – if I have to admit – pretty claustrophobic. It’s evident that this hypermarket has got all their guns out for the Klang Valley price war.

I hunt down everything on my list easily enough, though am noticing marked differences in prices. Toilet paper costs almost RM2 more than at Carrefour, and, their generic 10kg bag of rice is almost RM4 more expensive. Instant coffee is cheapest here, but just like the elections, I realise that just because you have more flags, it doesn’t mean you’re a winning party. Giant recorded the highest total bill of the day.

To their credit, Giant does offer a very large breadth of homebrand products. There’s virtually everything you need, from adult diapers to chicken-flavoured crackers, though I personally recommend their cleaning utensils which are much cheaper than mainstream brands. The store’s popularity with families is evident (there are a lot of items for school and affordable children’s clothes), but sadly, there are no special privileges or point-reward system for customers. This is redeemed slightly by free parking, though the route here (the LDP highway) is prone to congestion during peak hours.

Total Bill: RM89.80

Round Three, Tesco!
I move on to Tesco and here (on a Monday afternoon), the crowds outnumber the other two hypermarkets and justifiably so; prices here are the most competitive. Matching Carrefour, there were special deals on cooking oil (RM10 for 5L), toilet paper (RM3 for ten) and rice (RM19 for 10kg), and this store was cheapest for washing powder, the 2.5kg whole chicken, and cola.

The overall shopping experience was best here. The fresh produce department is fantastic and the store’s spacious enough for you to avoid unpleasant trolley accidents. Their range of Tesco Value and Tesco Choice products is vast and well presented which helps gain consumer confidence for homebrands, and I note huge savings, such as the RM16 difference between Tesco Choice liquid detergent and a popular brand. Product buyers have done a good job in the fashion department too, so rest safe knowing Tesco have put in the effort to keep you well dressed and for less during this economic crisis.

Best of all is their Tesco Clubcard, a free loyalty programme that rewards you (with vouchers) for your accumulated purchases. And, they’ve also gone green, encouraging customers to bring their own bags. Or, use one of their green ones for Green Clubcard points (I suggest the Natural Bag for RM6.99). Parking is free with a minimum spend of RM5, and with the lowest bill recorded, there’s enough to stow away for a rainy day.

Total Bill: RM78.30

Shopping List:
10kg Bag of Rice,
5L Cooking Oil,
10 Rolls Toilet Paper,
3kg Washing Powder,
10 Large Plastic Bin Bags,
300g Instant Coffee,
1.5l Cola,
10 Granny Smith Apples,
2.5kg Chicken,
1kg Sugar.