08 May 2024

Some grocery retailers displaying inaccurate pricing, watchdog finds

08 May 2024

Some grocery retailers are displaying inaccurate prices or failing to display prices at all for certain products, the competition watchdog has found.

Missing prices; conflicting prices – when prices on products conflicted with those on shelf labels; and prices not being displayed sufficiently close to products, were the most common problems found by the Competition and Markets Authority in a review of 139 grocery stores in England and Wales.

The review also found prices not being clearly legible, the selling price being obscured, and multibuy promotion labels that did not specify the price of the items individually.

The majority of problems were found in independent food stores and small independents operating under a brand name.

Overall, 60% of the errors resulted in customers being charged a higher price at the till.

Failing to provide clear and accurate pricing information for products on sale is a breach of consumer law.

As a result of the findings, the CMA and Trading Standards have released a poster aimed at helping grocery retailers understand what they need to do to comply with the law.

The CMA’s interim executive director for consumer protection and markets, George Lusty, said: “We know how frustrating it can be when you get to the till only to find the price doesn’t match what was advertised.

“While lots of grocery retailers – particularly supermarkets – are complying with pricing rules, this needs to consistently be the case across all types of stores.

“It’s important that shoppers can make well-informed choices based on accurate information, especially at a time when lots of people are looking to save money. That’s why we are reminding businesses of the importance of complying with consumer law.”

The view follows separate work by the CMA last year which looked at how grocery retailers are displaying unit pricing in stores and online.

The review found problems with unit pricing which could affect consumers’ ability to compare products.

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