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Supermarkets told to make pricing and promotions clearer

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Supermarkets have been told to review their promotion tactics and Asda has committed to change the way it advertises multi-buy deals following a competition inquiry into the grocery market.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has asked a number of supermarkets to review their promotions and has agreed specific changes with Asda.

The supermarket has pledged that ‘now’ prices will not be advertised for longer than the ‘was’ price so customers have a meaningful comparison after a CMA inquiry raised concerns over its practices.

In its formal response, Asda stated that multi-buy offers will represent better value than a single product before the offer and multi-buy offers will not be immediately followed by ‘was/now’ promotions so it will be easier for customers to tell what’s a better deal.

Asda said it will implement the changes by 1 August 2016.

The move comes after campaign group Which? launched a super-complaint amid concerns about supermarket pricing and promotional practices last year.

Its research uncovered confusing and misleading special offers, a lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit prices had been advertised, and shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction.

A CMA inquiry found that supermarkets generally have a good awareness of consumer law but said it is now working with all supermarkets to ensure price and volume promotions are genuine, so shoppers can see if they’re really getting a deal.

Michael Grenfell, CMA executive director, enforcement, said: “We welcome the commitment we have received from Asda as well as the engagement from other supermarkets, and expect them all to ensure that their practices are not misleading and that shoppers are better informed and able to choose the products that most suit their needs.”

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Following our super-complaint last year, we are pleased to see the CMA investigation has resulted in Asda taking action to stop misleading special offers. Asda has been found breaking the rules and now must immediately clean up their act.

“Our super-complaint and actions taken by the authorities should serve as a clear warning to all retailers. If they try to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes they will not get away with it. Retailers must get their house in order.”

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