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Coles vs Woolworths: Which supermarket comes out on top?

We've compared the two chains from every angle to help inform your shopping choice.

The Australian supermarket scene is dominated by two giants: Coles and Woolworths. Together, they account for 61% of local grocery sales, according to Roy Morgan.

But how do they stack up head-to-head? Here are the key details.


Coles vs Woolworths prices: Which one is cheaper?

As aggressive competitors, Coles and Woolworths very rarely have different pricing for the same items. That's true of both their store-branded products and for mainstream brands. Ongoing analysis of their specials by Finder also suggests these are often seen in both supermarkets. If Twinings tea is on sale at Coles one week, you can expect that special to be replicated at Woolworths in the near future. The same applies across dozens of categories.

If you're looking to save money, taking advantage of specials is the key, but you can do that in both supermarket chains.

The winner: This one's a dead heat.


Coles vs Woolworths in-store and online

The same also applies to shopping online. In the past, both chains have charged different prices for online shoppers to what you'd pay in-store, but as of 2020 pricing is generally consistent between online stores and what you'll pay in your local branch. There is some variation in pricing between states, and both chains sometimes promote "online-only" specials.

The winner: Again, we'll have to call this one a draw.


Coles vs Woolworths delivery

How can you get free delivery?

Free delivery makes grocery shopping online much more tempting. Both Woolworths and Coles offer free delivery options, but the details differ. Keep an eye out for coupons that can reduce regular delivery prices or offer money off for your first order.

Woolworths
Your first Woolworths delivery will be free provided you spend more than $100 (not including cigarettes and alcohol). Delivery of subsequent orders is free if you spend more than $300. Woolworths previously offered a "Delivery Saver" subscription service for free deliveries, but as of 2019 that's not being made available to new customers.
Coles
Coles also offers free delivery for your first shop provided you spend at least $100 (again, cigarettes and alcohol don't count towards the total). Its "Flexi-Free Delivery" offers free delivery on all subsequent shops of $150 or more. To qualify for Flexi-Free Delivery, you'll need to select an eight-hour delivery window. That means it's not as precise as a paid delivery, but Coles will send you an email with an updated one-hour arrival window prior to delivery. If you sign up for flybuys Max, you'll get free delivery if you spend $50 or more.

The winner: Coles, for providing free delivery options that go beyond your first order.

Who charges more for home delivery?

Assuming you don't qualify for free delivery, how much will you pay?

Woolworths
Woolworths charges based on the amount of your order, with lower fees as the value of your shop goes up. For orders under $100, you'll pay $15, while orders of $250 to $300 get charged just $3.
Coles
Coles charges based on your location, the time of day you select for your delivery and the length of the delivery window. For metro deliveries, costs typically range from $4 to $20.

When will I get my delivery?

Woolworths
Woolworths offers next-day delivery provided you place your order before 6pm. In Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane you can pay extra for same-day delivery.
Coles
Coles offers next-day delivery (cut-off timing varies depending on your location and the delivery time slot you want). Same-day delivery is available between 4pm and 6pm, provided you place your order by 1pm.

The winner: Coles has the edge here, as the charges for a sub-$100 order will generally be lower and its delivery options are more flexible.


Coles vs Woolworths loyalty schemes

Both supermarket chains have their own loyalty schemes: Woolworths Rewards for Woolworths and flybuys for Coles. These each operate in a very similar fashion: they're free to join, you earn points from all your shopping at the supermarket and other associated stores, and once you accumulate 2,000 points, you can get a $10 off voucher for your next shop.

Alternatively, you can convert your points into frequent flyer points. Coles lets you convert flybuys to Virgin Velocity, while Woolworths Rewards convert to Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Where flybuys gains an edge is being able to spend your points on gift cards or a range of other products through the flybuys catalogue, which is an option that isn't available with Woolworths Rewards.

The winner: The greater flexibility of flybuys makes Coles the winner here.


Coles vs Woolworths credit cards

Both supermarket giants offer a range of credit cards that can help you earn more reward points. Our credit card experts have put together a comprehensive comparison of the cards available from each chain.

The winner: Your choice of credit card will depend on a range of features, including interest rate, annual fee and rewards options. As such, there's no clear-cut winner to be declared.

Written by

Angus Kidman

Angus Kidman is the international editor-at-large at Finder. He's an award-winning journalist who has reported on technology, travel, finance and other topics for over 25 years. Angus appears regularly on Sunrise, Today, The Project, Seven News and other TV and radio shows. See full profile

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