Consumer rights campaigner Which? has issued the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) with a “super-complaint” regarding supermarket pricing practices.
It claimed some were “misleading” and the CMA must now, by law, respond within 90 days as to whether an inquiry will be launched.
Which? said it had identified a range of pricing tactics in supermarkets, such as multi-buys, smaller products and exaggerated discounts, which it claimed confused consumers and left them out of pocket.
The main concerns are:
• Confusing and misleading special offers
• Lack of easily comparable prices because of the way unit pricing is being done
• Shrinking pack sizes without any corresponding price reduction.
Which? warned that, with £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013, consumers could be losing out on hundreds of millions of pounds, even if just a small number of promotions were misleading.
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: “Despite Which? repeatedly exposing misleading and confusing pricing tactics, and calling for voluntary change by the retailers, these dodgy offers remain on numerous supermarket shelves.”
Industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it did not accept the implications of the complaint, based on the specific nature of the issues outlined.