Case reference number: CRE-E/28039
Complainant: OFT own-initiative investigation
Purpose of the investigation
The OFT launched an investigation into the supermarket sector to
consider concerns that shoppers could be confused by the way food and
drink prices are displayed, advertised and promoted.
Findings and outcomes
The OFT has made no finding that the supermarkets investigated have
breached the law or were engaging in misleading promotional practices.
However, the OFT did find that there was a variety of approaches to
interpreting and applying relevant legislation across the food/drink
Action following investigation
The OFT has worked with a number of major UK supermarkets and developed
a set of principles to establish a more consistent approach across the
These principles should help to ensure promotional claims are meaningful
and accurate. Eight food and drink retailers have agreed to use these
principles within their businesses.
The OFT is also working with local authority Trading Standards Services
and other stakeholders, including the Trading Standards Institute (TSI),
to ensure that published business guidance (including the BIS Pricing
Practices Guide, responsibility for which has recently been transferred
to the enforcement community) is up to date and achieving its purpose.
The principles agreed
In summary, our principles cover two promotional practices:
First, internal reference pricing (for example, 'Was £3, Now £2'
or 'Half Price' labels), where there have been public concerns
- whether prices are artificially inflated to make a later
'discount' look more attractive
- whether prices are presented as discounts for longer than the
higher price was initially charged, and
- whether the comparison between current and previous prices is
meaningful and relevant (based on such things as when and where the
price was charged).
Second, pre-printed value claims on packs (for example, 'Bigger
Pack, Better Value'), where there have been public concerns about:
- whether the claims are reliable, and whether there are cheaper ways
of buying the same volume of the product elsewhere in the same store.
More detail on the principles is contained in the
Published 20 November 2012