Saturday, January 23, 2021

Supermarkets agree to fair discount pricing

Britain‘s leading supermarkets have agreed to adopt principles set out by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to ensure that the pricing of products under special offers and promotions is fair, it has been announced today.

Sainsbury‘s, Tesco and Morrisons have agreed to alter their policies to adhere to the principles which aim to ensure that consumers can trust that the price of a food or drink item is fair and meaningful in terms of its true value, while Aldi, Lidl, Co-op, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer have also agreed to address concerns on the issue.

Value claims on packs such as ‘Bigger Pack, Better Value‘ must now be true the OFT has said and supermarkets must ensure that there is no cheaper way of buying the same volume of the product for cheaper elsewhere in the store, while prices must not be artificially inflated to make a later discount appear more enticing.

Grocers undertook “constructive engagement” with the watchdog following the launch of an investigation into to what extent consumers are left confused over the prices of products in advertisements, promotions and within displays.

While the OFT pointed out that no supermarket was found to have breached the law by engaging in misleading practices, it did find that interpretation and application of existing law was inconsistent across the sector and developed the set of principles to align the approaches of different grocers.

Clive Maxwell, CEO of the OFT, said of the agreement: “Household budgets across the country are under pressure and shoppers should be able to trust that special offers and promotions really are bargains.

“Prices and promotions need to be fair and meaningful so shoppers can make the right decisions.

“Nowhere is this more important than during regular shopping for groceries, which accounts for 44 per cent of household spending.”

Leading supermarket Asda, which this week revealed in its Mumdex survey that UK mums ‘confidence in their family finances has nosedived 10 per cent over the last year, is notable in its absence though is reported to be considering the revised code, according to the BBC.

Maxwell outlined the benefits of adopting the principles, noting: “‘Our principles taken together with previous guidance provide supermarkets with a clear benchmark for how they should be operating so that their food and drink promotions reflect the spirit as well as the letter of the law.

“We are pleased that supermarkets have engaged constructively throughout our investigation and we will keep a watching brief on promotional practices in this sector.‘


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