Consumer minister Jo Swinson congratulated supermarkets on the improvements during a visiting to a Sainsbury store in London today (December 4). Her comments followed a meeting in May when retailers were urged to improve the clarity of their pricing.
“It is great that they [the top 10 supermarkets] have committed to greater consistency and clearer labels,” said Swinson. “We will now look at the current legislation to see if it’s preventing supermarkets from making further improvements.”
‘Hard for households’
Swinson added that she had long campaigned for supermarkets to display clearer and simpler information for consumers. “It can be hard for households to work out the best deal when food is sometimes priced individually – like a mince pie – or soups and sauces which can be priced by both the gram and millilitre.”
This year about £74bn will be spent in the 10 largest supermarkets, which account for around half the market. “So, it’s a win-win situation if the big 10 are giving consumers a fairer way to understand the prices they’re paying,” said Swinson.
But only last month Which? urged supermarkets to be more open with shoppers, who are increasingly worried about rising food prices, it claimed.
After the watchdog analysed more than 70,000 grocery prices, Which?’s executive director Richard Lloyd said in November: “We’ve found dodgy discounts across the aisles."
Commenting on today’s announcement Lloyd, said: “Hard-pressed shoppers want to know at a glance what the cheapest deal is without having to get their calculators out so this is a victory for the 32,000 people who signed up to our Price it Right campaign Which? launched more than a year ago.
“We now need the remaining supermarkets to commit to making special offer deals simpler to understand. With rising food prices one of consumers’ top worries, it’s only right that supermarkets play fair and help consumers find the best deal.”
Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s group commercial director Mike Coupe acknowledged the importance of clear pricing for customers. “We’ve now increased the size of nearly all of our shelf-edge labelling to make it easier to understand and help people compare products. We’ve also worked with the Royal National Institute for the Blind to improve our labelling for visually impaired customers.
“It’s part of our aim to make things simpler for customers. We hope that other retailers will follow our lead on this important issue.”
British Retail Consortium director for business and regulation Tom Ironside said: “We are delighted that the minister recognises the commitment made by our members to give consumers clear and accessible information about the products they buy. Our food retailers will continue to work with BIS to build on recent achievements, ensuring that the approach is as coherent and consistent for the consumer as is possible.”