Groceries pricing super-complaint

The CMA looked into alleged misleading pricing practices in the groceries sector, following a super-complaint from Which?

Timetable

Date Action
27 April 2016 Outcome of follow-up work published
16 July 2015 Response to super-complaint published
21 April 2015 Super-complaint from Which? received

Case closed

27 April 2016: Following the CMA’s response last July to Which?’s super-complaint about pricing and promotional practices in the groceries market, the CMA has published an update on its follow-up work.

This details the CMA’s engagement with supermarkets and Trading Standards Services, and highlights a commitment given by Asda. It also summarises how other bodies are taking forward the CMA’s recommendations in relation to the key guidance and legislation in this area.

Update: 15 October 2015

The CMA welcomes the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) response to our report ‘Pricing Practices in the Groceries Market’ (which followed a super-complaint from Which?), published on 16 July. In particular, we welcome the proposals relating to improving unit pricing for groceries products, in line with the recommendations made in our report.

The CMA also welcomes the consultation by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) on its revisions to the Pricing Practices Guide. The CMA recommended that CTSI amend the guidance to provide clarity about how the law applies to certain pricing and promotional practices.

Following the CMA’s response to the super-complaint, we have been undertaking further analysis of the potentially misleading practices identified in our report and establishing our priorities for further action. We plan to engage with retailers in the coming weeks to address these issues.

Response to super-complaint

16 July 2015: The CMA has responded to a super-complaint by Which? in relation to pricing and promotional practices in the groceries sector.

In our investigation we found examples of pricing and promotional practices that have the potential to confuse or mislead consumers and which could be in breach of consumer law. Where there is evidence of breaches of consumer law this could lead to enforcement action.

However, we have concluded that these problems are not occurring in large numbers across the whole sector and that generally retailers are taking compliance seriously to avoid such problems occurring. We also found that more could be done to reduce the complexity in unit pricing to make it a more useful comparison tool for consumers.

We will continue to work with businesses and government to improve pricing and promotional practices in the groceries sector.

Summary of super-complaint

The CMA received a super-complaint from Which? about ‘grocery retailing in the UK’, defined by Which? to cover food, drink, cleaning products and household goods sold both in-store and online.

More information on what super-complaints are is available in our short guide.

Contact

Email: groceriespricing@cma.gsi.gov.uk

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