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Dubai residents reveal favourite shops for food.

Price increase in most food items

Married couple Tamer Sikhtian from Canada and Hiba Al Hammari from Saudi Arabia said their grocery expenses per month are high even though they eat out a few times a week. "Our grocery budget is between Dh2,000-Dh3,000 a month and that is just for the two of us," said Hiba. Despite allocating an adequate budget for food essentials, the couple said that some months they have to spend more than Dh3,000.

They have been living in Dubai for over two years and have noticed an increase in the price of most food items across different supermarkets. "Generally, I've noticed that everything is more expensive in the supermarkets, but I'd say the biggest increase is in the price of vegetables and meats," said Hiba.

The couple likes to do their food shopping at the Union Co-op and the Safestway supermarket.

Small price increases are a regular feature

Sharzd Pirayesh loves to buy blueberries. Fashion consultant Pirayesh, who is from the Seychelles, said these come at a cost. Pirayesh, who has been living in Dubai for over three years, stays with her family of six who keep a flexible budget for grocery shopping. "My mum usually does all the food shopping, but the one thing I have noticed is the increase in the price of fruits, especially blueberries.

"Sometimes, from day to day, I notice there has been an increase in the same item I bought the day before, and it's usually a very small amount that is added on." The price increase could be 20 or 50 fils or so, a small amount in itself but which can add up to a substantial amount over time.

Prices fluctuate on regular basis

Mikheva, from Russia, keeps an open budget for grocery shopping because prices seem to fluctuate on a regular basis. "I don't have a budget as such for groceries but I do notice that I am spending more on food every month." Mikheva too has noticed that prices of the same products differ across different supermarkets, which is a vexing situation for consumers, she believes. In the past year, the prices that have shown a significant increase, according to her, are that of fruits and vegetables. "Even a kilo of apples is more expensive now." Mikheva, who is married and has a baby, works at a travel agency in Dubai and her family of three likes to do their food shopping at a Union Co-op branch for two reasons. "First, the co-op is quiet and not very busy so I can shop calmly, and second, it's small and has everything I am looking for, especially fresh fruits and vegetables."

Budget spent mainly on meat and fruits

Joan Joseph, from Spain, works as a manager in Dubai and his family of four spends around Dh1,000 a week. Joseph said he has noticed a minor increase in prices every three months or so. "Most of our grocery budget is spent on meat and fruits. I prefer going to Waitrose and Choithram because they are close by and are more convenient to visit." Though he is aware that prices differ from one supermarket to another, overall, he believes he is getting his money's worth. "Coming from Barcelona, [I find)] the prices here in Dubai cheaper. I find grocery shopping frustrating in general but shopping in Dubai is more interesting, especially with the fresh fruit market in Safa Park."

Though he enjoys pop-up markets, he believes such places charge higher prices as they say they sell organic produce.

Convenience is more important

Lana Wafa, a student from Saudi Arabia, says her family of three spends around Dh500 a week.

"Our go-to destination for grocery shopping is Spinneys because it has everything we need and is close by." Lana does her grocery shopping every weekend. "I time it that way because it is the most convenient time for me." She said the Dh500 does not include cleaning products, which are bought on a monthly basis. It also does not include meat because Lana goes to a certain butcher shop that she trusts. "I prefer the butcher because he provides me with different cuts and types." Lana noticed that Carrefour is cheaper than Spinneys; however, since the latter is closer, she goes to Spinneys and chooses convenience over cheaper prices. "I am used to Spinneys. I know where all the products are. So it is really about convenience."

Small price rises are not an issue

Emirati Ali Hassan, who works in the Ministry of Interior, said he spends around Dh700 a week for his family of three on groceries. Hassan has noticed an increase in prices for a while but believes that they have stabilised recently. "I shop at Carrefour because it has everything I need; it is also among the cheapest hypermarket chains."

He and his wife find shopping to be fun even if it is for food. Most of their food budget is spent on vegetables and fruits. Minor increases in prices, he says, do not affect his financial situation.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Apr 6, 2014
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