Cost of living: Coles extends price freeze after Woolworths program ends

Coles is extending its price freeze program, in a win for Australian shoppers staring down the barrel of rising inflation and interest rate hikes.

The supermarket, along with its main rival Woolworths, implemented price freezes on hundreds of items by mid-2022. “Coles freeze was due to end on January 31 – Woolworths” has now expired.

But Coles has changed its mind, announcing on Monday afternoon that the ‘Dropped and Locked’ campaign would continue beyond this month.

“The walkout and lockout will continue beyond January 31, when the first phase of the promotion was scheduled to end,” a Coles spokesperson confirmed to NCA NewsWire, adding that more details would be provided “soon.”

Cart essentials at the supermarket price freeze included flour, sugar, oats, eggs, cheese, bacon and nappies.

Woolies cut prices on WW RSPCA Chicken Mince 500g ($6.50-$6), Mersey Valley Cheese 180g ($7.50-$6) and Dilmah Premium Leaf Tea 50g ( between $5.30 and $3.70).

Coles cut prices on staples such as a 1kg pack of Flora margarine spread, which was reduced by 45 cents to $8.95, while in August last year 50 cents was taken off ‘an $8 jar of Bega peanut butter.

Coles brand flour ($2.40 to $2) and chicken pieces ($9/kg to $8.50/kg) were down among other products.

It is unclear at this stage whether prices will return to the prices before the original policy when Dropped and Locked finally ends, or whether the new prices will be higher.

The potential price rises come amid growing pressure on household budgets elsewhere, with the Reserve Bank raising interest rates for eight consecutive months to 3.1 per cent, the highest level in more than a decade.

A Woolworths spokesman said the chain had recently reduced the price of more than 300 “summer grocery staples” in a bid to ease consumers’ pain at the checkout.

“We know Australian families are being pressured by the cost of living and throughout 2023 we will continue to work hard to help them save every time they shop with us,” the spokesperson said.

“Although the price freeze program has come to an end, we remain focused on maximizing value for our customers, and many of the products in the program currently remain at the same low price.

“We will continue to review each cost increase request from our suppliers on a case-by-case basis, working together to sensitively manage inflationary pressures across the market.”

A Coles spokesman said its Dropped and Locked scheme had received an “amazing response” from customers.

“With cost of living pressures, customers know they can rely on these locked prices at Coles every time they go shopping to help plan and manage their budgets,” they said.

“We will also continue to focus on value through our weekly Down Down specials and Everyday Low Prices, which offer key essentials at long-term trusted prices, and through other offers such as Flybuys points.”

Originally published as Coles will continue price freeze amid cost of living chaos

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