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MONEY

REVEALED: Which are Italy’s cheapest supermarkets?

As the cost of living crisis hits household budgets in Italy as elsewhere, a new study says switching supermarkets could shave thousands of euros a year off your grocery shopping bill.

People shopping at Esselunga, Milan.
A family of four can save up to 3,350 euros a year by shopping at discount stores such as Aldi and Eurospin. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

As the cost of living keeps rising amid soaring inflation – Italy’s inflation rate hit a 37-year high at the end of last month – many households across Italy, as elsewhere, are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.

READ ALSO: What is Italy doing to cut the rising cost of living?

The government’s recent suggestion of lowering or even scrapping IVA (VAT, or sales tax) on basic food products hasn’t materialised. But consumers could still find ways to save on their grocery shopping.

Many shoppers are now switching supermarkets to save money, or considering it.

And doing so could pay off. A new study from Italian consumer group Altroconsumo showed a family of four can save up to 3,350 euros a year by shopping at discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Eurospin.

Altroconsumo, savings on grocery shopping

Maximum possible savings by type of shopping and household size. Graphic courtesy of Altroconsumo.

For context, the study found Italian families with two children spend an average of 8,550 euros a year on groceries. 

While discount supermarkets do allow for considerable savings however they also generally offer lower-quality products which not all consumers will be satisfied with.

Shoppers can also reduce costs by switching to supermarket own-brand items (i.e. items carrying the supermarket logo), available in stores such as Carrefour and Iper-Coop. 

In particular, shopping at Carrefour, which is the most affordable supermarket in Italy when it comes to own-brand goods, can allow a family of four to save as much as 3,250 euros per year (savings can amount to 2000 euros for individual consumers). 

Consumers who do not wish to part ways with branded products (prodotti di marca) can still save on their shopping, though in this case savings are comparatively lower.

Shopping at Esselunga – the most cost-effective Italian supermarket for branded goods – allows for savings up to 350 euros for single individuals and up to 570 euros for families with two children.

Finally, potential savings are considerably reduced for consumers choosing to stick with a spesa mista, meaning that they generally fill up their shopping cart with a combination of branded items, distributor-brand goods and low-cost goods.

Regional differences 

While switching supermarket can mean savings on food bills, exactly how much you’ll save varies greatly by region.

In particular, Altroconsumo’s latest report highlighted once again the stark divide separating the north of the country from the centre and south. 

READ ALSO: From coffee to haircuts: How the cost of living varies around Italy

 Of the 15 cheapest Italian supermarkets, only two are located in the central or southern regions of the boot (Sesto Fiorentino’s Coop-Fi and Spesa 365 in Bari).

More importantly, consumers living in the north and shopping at the cheapest supermarket or hypermarket available in their city can save as much as 18 percent on a branded-goods-only food bill.

In equal circumstances (i.e. buying only branded items at the cheapest local store), consumers living in most central or southern cities can only save between two and three percent. 

Convenience map by Altroconsumo

The “convenience map”, with the cheaper cities shown in green and the more expensive cities shown in red. Graphic courtesy of Altroconsumo.

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PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: Will the latest change solve problems with Italy’s superbonus?

With lines of credit blocked and renovation work delayed, Italy’s political parties have agreed on further changes to the ‘superbonus 110’. Will this be enough to resolve issues for homeowners?

EXPLAINED: Will the latest change solve problems with Italy’s superbonus?

After weeks of intense back-and-forth, parties have finally agreed on the latest amendment to Italy’s famed building superbonus, the government’s financial incentive offering a rebate of up to 110 percent of the cost of works increasing a property’s energy efficiency or reducing its seismic vulnerability.

The scheme has proven incredibly popular over the two years since its introduction back in May 2020. But access has often been hindered by technical issues, with a number of authoritative political figures, not least outgoing premier Mario Draghi, criticising the bonus for its structural complexity. 

READ ALSO: Italy’s building superbonus: How will it change after the election?

A major issue concerns the credit transfer system, with many banks across the country recently refusing to buy or lend credit, and billions of euros’ worth of fraudulent claims – causing many financial operations, and therefore building work, to be frozen altogether.

These setbacks have left many homeowners concerned about whether they’ll be able to finish their renovation projects in time and even caused some to abandon their plans

Furthermore, as many as 40,000 construction businesses are said to be currently at risk of bankruptcy due to credit transfer blockages. 

Worker standing on scaffolding in Spain.

The latest government measure seeks to reopen lines of credit and save as many as 40,000 businesses from bankruptcy. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

The latest amendment, part of the government’s new cost-of-living-crisis aid package (the decreto aiuti bis), is intended to unclog existing lines of credit and save businesses from folding.

The change was approved by the Italian Senate on Tuesday, with the go-ahead from the Lower House now being the last remaining step before the changes are made into law – deputies are expected to greenlight the amendment on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Italy’s building superbonus: What’s the problem with credit transfers?

So what does the latest amendment entail and, more importantly, how is it expected to affect homeowners using the bonus?

The building scheme’s latest amendment is set to remove joint and several liability (‘responsabilità in solido’ in Italian) for all parties involved in the credit transfer chain, retaining the provision only for cases of “wilful misconduct or gross negligence”.

In other words, should cases of insolvency occur, the parties involved in the transfer of credit will no longer be collectively liable to pay the amount owed unless fraud or serious neglect can be proved. 

Naturally, the measure’s primary objective is to allow for easier circulation of credit in order to restart financial operations. 

It isn’t yet clear however whether the amendment will ultimately save those businesses whose credit had been previously blocked and allow homeowners to complete construction works by the given deadlines. 

Construction worker wiping sweat off his brow.

As things stand, 30 percent of renovation works on single-family homes must be completed by September 30th, 2022. Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP

On this note, it is worth mentioning that there was no provision made under the amendment to extend timeframes for claiming the bonus.

As things stand, those renovating single-family homes still need to complete 30 percent of renovation works by September 30th and must achieve 100-percent completion by December 31st in order to benefit from the funds.

READ ALSO: Nine things we’ve learned about claiming Italy’s building ‘superbonus’

Those renovating certain other types of buildings, or those in areas with higher seismic risk, have until 2025 to claim.

Looming deadlines notwithstanding, both the Italian Banking Association (Associazione Bancaria Italiana, ABI) and the National Constructors Association (Associazione Nazionale Costruttori Edili, ANCE) have expressed cautious satisfaction over the latest amendment, with the former praising the measure as a “step forward”.

Five Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte, who was responsible for introducing the bonus while prime minister in 2020, commended the amendment, saying that a solution had finally been found for the “businesses, workers and families who had been forgotten by all”. 

Others aren’t sure however that the latest update will solve the issues for good. 

Notably, the president of the National Council of Surveyors (CNG), Maurizio Savincelli, said the amendment would not fully resolve the credit transfer blockage as “banks will likely wait for new measures, including memos from the Italian Revenue Agency” before they reopen lines of credit.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more information on claiming Italy’s building bonuses, homeowners are advised to consult a qualified Italian building surveyor or financial advisor.

See more in our Italian property section.

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