In the context of the rising cost of living, people shopping for food and other essential products need confidence that they have the right information to make great choices and are getting fair deals. It is important that shoppers who look at the prices of products should be able to compare like for like. This, together with recent concerns raised by stakeholders, has led the CMA to revisit the issue of unit pricing.
This new work follows the 2015 Groceries Super-complaint where the CMA considered pricing and promotional practices in the groceries market and concluded that complexities and inconsistencies with unit pricing may prevent people from spotting which deal gives them the best value.
- different interpretations of legibility of unit prices amongst retailers
- inconsistencies with how retailers present unit prices for similar products
- inconsistencies with how retailers present unit prices for products on promotion
George Lusty, Senior Director for Consumer Protection at the CMA said:
We know that the increased cost of living has hit the pound in people’s pockets.
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 the following:
- if the unit pricing issues identified during the 2015 Super-complaint remain
- compliance with the law by retailers
- consumer awareness and use of unit pricing information
The project is at an early stage and the CMA has not formed a view on these issues. The CMA will provide an update on the case page later in 2023.
Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy, said:
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 project forms part of the CMA’s work to help people, businesses and the UK economy by promoting competitive markets and tackling unfair behaviour outlined in the recent 2023/24 draft Annual Plan.