Grocery market investigation reference (OFT)

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred the grocery market to the Competition Commission (CC) for investigation.

Action before reference

The OFT carried out a public consultation, which followed an earlier proposal by the Office to refer the grocery market to the Competition Commission (CC). During the consultation period, more than 1,200 responses were received from businesses, consumers and other interested parties, the majority of whom supported the OFT's decision. Having considered the views of respondents to the consultation, the OFT has concluded that there are a number of competition concerns that warrant a full investigation by the CC.

Reasons for reference

Date of reference: 9 May 2006.

The OFT has referred the Grocery market to the CC for investigation. Evidence complied by the OFT suggests that:

  • the planning regime acts as a costly barrier to entry, making it difficult for new stores to open and compete with those already in the market
  • big supermarkets have significant land holdings which could aggravate barriers to entry or otherwise harm consumers
  • in some instances, supermarkets have attached restrictive covenants when selling sites
  • there is also evidence to suggest that the big supermarkets' buyer power has increased, and that some aspects of their pricing behaviour
    • such as below-cost selling and price flexing - could distort competition

Key documents

Information on the Competition Commission’s groceries market investigation is on GOV.UK.

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