The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has found that confusing pricing associated with certain types of promotions is bewildering consumers.
The results of the study, conducted over a period of three months, found that certain pricing examples could be said to be breaching consumer law.
However, a spokesperson for the supermarket industry has insisted that most special buys offered by supermarkets represent excellent value for money.
Which? stated that it had discovered many examples of pricing tactics which were both confusing and misleading. The CMA used less emphatic language, saying that while there is evidence that some pricing was somewhat misleading, there was no firm evidence of a widespread problem. It also observed that, in general, retailers are taking a serious approach to issues of compliance. However, it does now intend to conduct further investigations, and has warned that fines may be levied in some cases.
There were two main areas of concern on which the CMA focused. The first of these was unit pricing, that is the process of pricing a product per litre or per gram, to allow for an easier price comparison. The CMA are of the opinion that this process should be more transparent, with better and clearer shelf labelling.
The second area of concern highlighted by the CMA involves the so called ‘Was – Now’ promotions. This is when a new, cheaper price for an item is compared to an earlier price. The rules state that the length of time that the reduced price is offered can’t be longer than the period of time that the higher price was applicable. The CMA has emphasised that it will be working closely with retailers, to ensure that they are acting to the letter of the law.