The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching a supermarket pricing review as part of an ongoing programme of work to help shoppers spot the best value for their money.
The pricing review will investigate confusing unit pricing practices both online and instore across the UK grocery sector. Unit pricing helps shoppers compare how much a particular product costs by the cost per unit (for example per 100g or 100ml), which helps them identify the best deals.
The wider review comes on the back of a Which? study which revealed that supermarkets are “letting shoppers down” with inconsistent or missing price labels, making cheap deals harder to identify.
The CMA said it was revisiting the issue of unit pricing because “it is important that shoppers who look at the prices of products should be able to compare like-for-like”, as well as recent concerns raised by stakeholders.
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It added that people shopping for food and other essential products should be confident that they have the right information to make great choices and are getting fair deals, particularly in the wider context of the rising cost of living.
“We know that the increased cost of living has hit the pound in people’s pockets,” said CMA senior director for consumer protection, George Lusty.
“That’s why we’re pressing on with this important grocery unit pricing work to ensure shoppers can more easily compare prices and make choices that are right for them.”
The project will consider if the unit pricing issues identified during the 2015 super-complaint still remain, if retailers comply with the law, and consumer awareness and use of existing unit pricing information.
Which? head of food policy Sue Davies welcomed the move, saying: “Grocery prices are a huge concern as households all over the country grapple with the cost of living crisis, so it’s timely and important for the CMA to be looking at whether prices are clearly and fairly displayed at the supermarket.
“We know poor, inconsistent and sometimes missing price information is a problem and that’s why Which? is campaigning for pricing transparency from supermarkets, so that shoppers can easily work out which products are the best value.”
The 2015 groceries super-complaint originally saw the CMA examining pricing in the groceries market, before concluding that complexities and inconsistencies with unit pricing and and promotions may prevent people from choosing the best deal.