A new Which? investigation reveals some of the pricing tactics used by supermarkets and big brands to get shoppers to part with their cash.
Since we launched our campaign in November we’ve found even more examples of confusing multibuys and pricing oddities in stores. Our latest investigation reveals 10 pricing tactics found in supermarkets. These include shrinking products, swapping offers on similar items and confusing multibuys.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:
'We’ve uncovered pricing tactics that make shopping for your weekly groceries look like tackling an obstacle course. With consumers struggling to cope with rising food prices, supermarkets and manufacturers need to make it easier for people to spot the best deal.'
Spotting the best supermarket deals
We analysed data from the independent shopping website MySupermarket.co.uk and found supermarkets selling seasonal products at a higher price weeks before most of us need them.
For example, Cadbury's Giant Creme Egg was £10 in Tesco and Sainsbury's in February last year. It was then on offer at Tesco for £8 and at Sainsbury's for £6.66 from March onwards in the lead up to Easter.
More than two in five shoppers (44%) say they've bought something they thought was on offer but turned out not to be. You can turn this annoyance into action by signing our campaign to Make Special Offers Special.
Our research has revealed that supermarket multibuy deals aren't always as good as you might be led to believe.
We analysed the price of 115 products over a year and found some multibuys didn't save you any money at all. Around 10% of products increased in price (from a discount or standard price) when they went onto multibuy and decreased afterwards, at one point during the year.
Daft multibuy offers
Multibuys appear to be on the increase, that's despite the fact they're not very popular - 73% of you told us that you prefer discounts to multibuys.
The 115 products we looked at were on multibuy for 46% of the time in the first half of 2012, compared with 37% of the time in the first half of 2011.
Our research shows that 74% of people think supermarkets try to mislead them with confusing prices. Many supermarkets provide unit prices (the price per kilo or per litre) that are difficult to spot or, in some cases, impossible to compare between brands.
Our research has revealed a whole range of supermarket tactics designed to make bargains look unmissable when, in fact, we don’t think they were really bargains at all.
These tactics include products sold with more expensive 'was' prices that hadn't applied during our tracking and others that increased in price for a few days before being sold on offer for months. When we looked at multibuys, we found products that were actually more expensive per item when they were on offer.
We also discovered products that were on offer for longer than they were at the higher price. Which leads us to ask - which price is the real one?