Being the third largest and third most populous city in the UAE, Sharjah offers its 1.4 million residents a number of options when it comes to buying their daily grocery items. The emirate has plenty of supermarkets and hypermarkets at every corner of the city.
Besides hopping to the nearest grocery stores that shelf almost everything a household needs, there are also those who choose to buy them at the wholesale market to get the best prices. Gulf News decided to pick a few items a family would generally buy and see for ourselves as to which is cost effective.
What does a UAE resident’s average grocery list look like?
Gulf News spoke to a few people from the UAE who shared what they generally buy on a monthly basis to compare prices from wholesale markets versus leading supermarkets around the UAE. We also looked at BulkWhiz, an application used to buy grocery items in bulk, as the trend of shopping for every day products online and through mobile phones is spreading.
Items like dairy products were not considered as they are generally not bought in bulk and require special storage facilities.
Here are what items people generally purchase:
All prices are the cheapest available at the time of research. These include local and international varieties.
How much they cost in supermarkets:
Tomatoes per kilogram
Wholesale – Dh1
Sharjah Cooperative Society – Dh3.95
Nesto – Dh1.75
Carrefour – Dh5.85
Bulk Whiz – Dh6.81
Onions per kilogram
(cheapest available at the time of research. These include local and international varieties)
Wholesale – Dh3.10
Sharjah Cooperative Society – Dh5.95
Nesto – Dh2.99
Carrefour – Dh 4.10
Bulk Whiz – Dh2.84
Basmati Rice per 10 kilograms
Wholesale – Dh45
Sharjah Cooperative Society – Dh64
Nesto – Dh127.50
Carrefour – Dh128.40
Bulk Whiz – Dh65.44
Detergent per 15 kilograms
Wholesale – Dh30
Sharjah Cooperative Society – Dh158
Nesto – Dh89.97
Carrefour – Dh97
Bulk Whiz – Dh92
Soap per bar
Wholesale – Dh1
Sharjah Cooperative Society – Dh2
Nesto – Dh0.75
Carrefour – Dh4.35
Bulk Whiz – Dh3.9
Sugar per kilogram
Wholesale – Dh2.4
Sharjah Cooperative Society – Dh5
Nesto – Dh3
Carrefour – Dh3.1
Bulk Whiz – Dh3.6
Sunflower oil per 1.8 litres (The brand of the oil greatly affects the price)
Wholesale – Dh4.1
Sharjah Cooperative Society – 20.8
Nesto – Dh6.99
Carrefour – Dh12
Bulk Whiz – Dh14.61
Who buys from wholesale markets?
Gulf News spoke to Abdul Rahman Al Hammadi who has been working at a shop in the wholesale market in Al Gharb area, Sharjah.
Al Hammadi has been working at the shop for two years and has noticed a pattern in the customers that come in.
“People with large families who want to buy products in bulk, come to us [wholesalers],” he said.
Al Hammadi’s store sells everyday grocery items such as rice, cooking oil, assorted biscuits and cleaning products.
Another thing Al Hammadi noted is that people who have been long-term residents of Sharjah and whose families have bought from the market located next to what was once a busy dock, continue to buy from the market.
“This market is more than 50 years old, people and their families have been coming from ages. It’s like tradition,” he said.
But then there are those who stick to going to supermarkets for their daily grocery needs.
Huma Arshad is a UAE resident from 10 years now and she has been buying her grocery items from various supermarkets around Sharjah.
“It is just my husband and I, we are a small family. Buying from wholesalers does not make sense to us,” the Sharjah resident said.
Supermarkets are convenient for those who buy in small quantities and look for the nearest store to them.
People who buy items in bulk from markets like the wholesale market along Sharjah Corniche, are looking to save money by getting ‘unbranded’ products and there are also those who are sticking to traditions and doing it like their older generations did.
According to the few products looked at above, people who flock to wholesale markets are definitely able to save hundreds of dirhams going through their grocery lists.
But buying in bulk means the items need to get used before they expire. Also, it is inconvenient for those who live in smaller apartments, as a larger space is required to keep the items.
“If we buy from wholesalers, sure, we will be saving some cash but we would also need a big storage space. There is also the fear of items spoiling when it comes to food products,” Huma Arshad said.
Supermarkets are also convenient for those, like Arshad, who do not drive or want to walk to the store as they are virtually there at every corner of the city.
So, buying in bulk is cheaper but it depends on if you have the space and time for it. An average bill of the items listed above in a supermarket chain would come to around Dh280, while wholesale would be at Dh110. That is a saving of Dh170. But, this is for unbranded items. The decision is yours.
Note: The comparisons are made based on lowest available price and are not brand specific.