Supermarket giant Asda has agreed to make changes to “misleading” promotional practices as part of a wider crackdown by The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Asda is one of a number of supermarkets that the CMA has asked to review their promotions, and is the first to agree to make specific changes.

The supermarket was found to have been selling a Hovis loaf marked “was £1.20”, when it had not been that price for the previous 116 days

It has now committed to change the way it operates multi-buy deals, and use of the words “was/now” in reference to price cuts.

This is the latest phase of the CMA’s response to a ‘super-complaint’ by consumer campaign group Which? about misleading pricing by the major supermarkets. It has not named the other supermarkets involved in the review.

In February, Sainsbury’s became the first of the major supermarkets to commit to phasing out multi-buy deals, after mounting evidence that shoppers find them confusing and misleading. 

As part of the new push, “now” prices will not be advertised for longer than the “was” price applied, ensuring they are an accurate comparison. Multi-buy offers will also represent better value than a single product before the offer, and these will not be immediately followed by “was/now” promotions, to make it easier for shoppers to tell what is a good offer.

More confidence

The CMA said it wanted to ensure shoppers could have more confidence that they were getting a good deal, and had found supermarkets generally had a good awareness of consumer law and took compliance seriously.

It said in a statement: “The CMA has met with a number of supermarkets and asked them to work with their Trading Standards Services partners to review their pricing and promotional practices.

“The CMA has had particular engagement with Asda in relation to specific areas of concern. While the CMA has not made any findings against Asda, the retailer has given a commitment to the CMA that it will change the way it operates ‘was/now’ and multi-buy deals.

“Once implemented, these changes will give shoppers increased confidence that they are getting a genuine discount, and will help them to compare the discounted price with the previous higher price.”

Asda has already started making changes to the operation of its “was/now” practice and multi-buy promotions, which will be fully implemented by August.