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Which formally complains about 'misleading' Tesco promotional pricing

By Josh White

Date: Friday 09 Jun 2023

Which formally complains about 'misleading' Tesco promotional pricing

(Sharecast News) - Consumer campaign group Which raised concerns over Tesco's pricing practices on Friday, suggesting that the lack of clear pricing on the majority of its food and drink promotions could be violating the law.
Which said it had reported the grocer to the competition regulator, and was calling for the inclusion of vital pricing information on loyalty card offers.

The practice in question is the absence of unit pricing, which refers to the price per 100g or 100ml of a product.

Unit pricing allows consumers to compare prices across different stores and make informed decisions about the best value for their purchases, Which explained.

Given the current surge in grocery inflation, unit pricing was said to be particularly crucial.

Which argued that Tesco's failure to display unit pricing on its Clubcard offers could potentially be considered a 'misleading practice' under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).

It said the omission was making it unnecessarily challenging for shoppers to identify the cheapest product on the shelves.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is conducting an ongoing review of grocery unit pricing, should prioritise addressing the confusing pricing practice, Which said.

While the rules on unit pricing are outlined in the Price Marking Order 2004, the CPRs also require retailers to avoid "unfair commercial practices".

Which argued that unit prices be considered "material information" that most consumers need to make informed purchasing decisions and obtain the best value for their money.

While unit pricing issues have been identified across all supermarkets, the group said Tesco stood out due to its consistent omission of unit pricing from Clubcard offers.

These offers now constitute the majority of its grocery promotions, and in contrast, Sainsbury's introduced a similar scheme called Nectar Prices, which includes unit prices both in-store and online.

In response to Which's 2015 'super-complaint' on supermarket pricing, the CMA acknowledged that failure to display unit prices for reduced items could be considered a misleading omission under the CPRs.

Which said it believed that the same arguments could be applied to Tesco's Clubcard promotions.

Tesco reportedly told Which that its labelling had been approved by Trading Standards, although Trading Standards in Hertfordshire - where Tesco is based - said it had advised the supermarket giant of its compliance with the Price Marking Order 2004 in December.

"Tesco's unclear Clubcard pricing is at best confusing for shoppers struggling with soaring food inflation and at worst, could be breaking the law," said Which head of food Sue Davies.

"This is simply not good enough from the UK's biggest supermarket.

"Tesco should think of its customers and act now to introduce clear unit pricing on all offers, including Clubcard promotions, so shoppers can easily find the best value items."

Davies said Which expected the regulator to look at unit pricing on the growing number of supermarket member price schemes as part of its review.

"At this time of crisis, supermarkets cannot cut corners - they have a duty to ensure pricing is clear so that customers can get the best value.

"We also need to see these retailers support consumers in the face of high inflation by stocking a range of essential budget lines in smaller stores, particularly in areas where people are struggling most."

At 1002 BST, shares in Tesco were down 0.61% at 260.4p.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.


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