Store Vs Online

Reporter: Laura Sparkes

Australians were a little slow taking up the online shopping option, could we trust it? Break with the habit of the weekly shop? Well, many have and now over half of us buy one item online a week. But one pensioner has discovered a secret the big supermarkets have kept from us, one she says punishes all online shoppers.

The Online shopping revolution has changed the way we do the weekly shop.In 2008 only 5% of us shopped for their groceries online. Now 57% of us buy at least one item online a week.With 15 million Australians on the internet, it has become the battleground for fostering brand loyalty among the big retailers.

One lady, invalid pensioner, Sarina Sharpe couldn't live without her online shopping. "I don't own a car, I've got no other way of getting the groceries here, so an online service for me - it keeps me alive."

For a year now, she too has embraced the cyber shop.

"It was so fabulous - I was so excited and bought it into my kitchen - I thought it was just wonderful."

That was until Sarina did some investigating. "Yes, there was some sleuthing involved. But I think its worth it."

Worth quite a bit in fact. Sarina discovered she was being charged up to 20% more for her groceries shopping on the internet.

"The only things that you would get at the same price are things like milk, meat, fresh fruit and vegies and bakery - they're the only things you get at the same price online" Sarina says.

She did a survey of 20 items and found major discrepancies in the prices.

"I was paying 10% to 20% more per item online than I was going to the supermarket and I only found that out because one day I had to buy some extra groceries at the supermarket and I spent a bit of extra time double checking the prices" said Sarina. "I've worked out its several hundred dollars a year."

Its something this supermarket sleuth does every week now... every week - the same results...To prove her point, Sarina took us to her local supermarket armed with a shopping list and its online prices.She picked 18 items online and matched them to their shelf prices.

All up the 18 items Sarina bought came to a total of: $134.70. That was nearly $7 cheaper than the online price of $141."Over 18 items it doesn't seem like a lot of money but what if that shopping list had been 180 items. Then you're talking big money."An avid shopper online, Sarina could not understand the price hike.

"All other online services that I buy through are usually a lot cheaper than the shopfront store - a lot cheaper. So why am I paying 5% more?"General Manager of Coles online, Keith Louie, admits online shoppers do pay more their groceries but its a fee of convenience.He says the price increases are transparent, customers can read about it on the Coles website although we failed to find anything on their website to indicate a price increase.

But Christopher Zinn from Choice says this is all unfair. Online shoppers are hit with a double whammy - service fee and delivery fees.Choice are calling for one fee and one fee only, no extra hidden price increases."Its not explained on their site, that there is a premium price you have to pay if you get them online - they don't tell you about the mark up unless you go and do your own research and find out and it is shocking news when you find out. its upsetting" says Christopher.I really think they should be treating me the same as someone that goes into the store and buys their weekly shopping at the checkout" adds Serina.