Supermarkets urged to clarify pricing for shopper assistance

Supermarkets have been instructed to enhance pricing clarity to aid shoppers in finding the best deals.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) highlighted that unclear pricing might be hindering people’s ability to compare products effectively.

The watchdog urged retailers to “implement the required adjustments” and also called upon the government to enact reforms for strengthening the law.

Supermarkets stated that they would carefully consider the CMA’s recommendations.

These findings come after a review of how grocery retailers present unit pricing information both in their physical stores and online.

The report highlighted that in certain cases, identical products were priced per unit using different metrics, leading to difficulty for shoppers in comparing prices on an equal basis.

As an illustration, the report discovered instances where tea bags were priced per 100g for certain products, while others were priced per individual tea bag.

Sarah Cardell, the CEO of the CMA, remarked, “We have identified that some retailers are not displaying prices as transparently as they should, potentially hindering people’s ability to compare product prices effectively.”

“We will be issuing letters to these retailers, advising them to make the necessary adjustments or potentially face enforcement action.”

According to the existing regulations, the majority of products should be priced per unit, either by kilogram or by liter.

However, the CMA discovered instances where retailers used grams and milliliters for pricing instead.

The regulatory body found a lack of transparency, with missing or inaccurately calculated unit pricing information both in physical stores and online.

As an illustration, there was a case where a 250ml bottle of handwash was sold for £1.19 but mistakenly labeled at £476.00 per 100ml.

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Additionally, the watchdog expressed concerns about unit pricing information being too small to read and certain retailers failing to display unit prices for promotional products.

The report highlighted that some of these issues were attributed to the unit pricing rules falling under the Price Marking Order. According to the CMA, these rules allowed for “unhelpful inconsistencies in retailers’ practices and provided too much room for interpretation.”

Sue Davies, the leader of food policy at the consumer group Which?, emphasized that supermarkets must take prompt action in response to the areas highlighted by the CMA.

She expressed, “This entails guaranteeing the provision of unit pricing for promotions, such as loyalty card offers and multi-buys, and improving the clarity and consistency of unit pricing.”

She also emphasized that the government should promptly fulfill its commitment to update pricing rules and address the loopholes that allow supermarkets to unnecessarily confuse shoppers.

Source : bbc.com