Supermarket pricing probe welcomed by Which?

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

The government is to probe supermarket pricing practices
The government is to probe supermarket pricing practices

Related tags Supermarket Grocery store Price

A government probe into supermarket price comparisons has been welcomed by consumer pressure group Which?

Consumer minister Nick Boles pledged last week to look into ways supermarket price comparisons can be made simpler for shoppers.

The study is in response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) investigation into Which?’s super complaint, which alleged misleading pricing practices in the groceries market.

Misleading pricing practices

Responding to the government probe Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “It's good to see the government supporting our super complaint and committing to end the confusion around supermarket pricing by strengthening the rules.

“These changes now need to be implemented without delay to ensure consumers are no longer subjected to misleading pricing practices. Cracking down on dodgy offers will be good for consumers and competition.”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is to launch a consultation later this autumn to examine options to improve unit pricing, including measures to simplify existing unit pricing legislation.

Taking compliance seriously

The CMA report did not find systemic problems in the way that supermarkets display prices and found that generally retailers were taking compliance seriously, said a government spokesman. But  the CMA plans to take action where it has identified examples of potentially misleading and confusing practices, he added. 

Consumer minister Nick Boles said: “Shoppers need to be able to get the best deal and make comparisons easily so we will look at how we can make information on price as clear and as simple as possible.

“The government takes the Competition and Market Authority’s findings and recommendations seriously and it is important that the supermarkets do too.”

Meanwhile, last week the Chartered Trading Standards Institute launched its consultation on the Pricing Practices Guide clarifying how the legislation applies to certain promotional practices – a key recommendation made by the CMA.

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