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OFT to shelve misleading supermarket offers

Major supermarkets sign up to OFT's principles

Special offers

The OFT is tackling misleading supermarket special offers

Aldi, the Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have agreed to make special offers ‘fair and meaningful’ under proposals from the Office of Fair Trading.

The supermarkets will not be able to artificially inflate prices to make special offers look more attractive to customers. Pre-printed claims about value must be true, ensuring that packs offer the best value to customers do so and that it should not be cheaper to buy the same quantity individually, for example.

The OFT hopes to combat any inconsistencies when retailers interpret the law, making it easier for retailers to know what is and isn’t allowed in promotions. Clive Maxwell, OFT chief executive, said that the updated guidelines ‘provide supermarkets with a clear benchmark for how they should be operating’.

Special offers and promotions

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘It should be good for hard-pressed consumers that the OFT has now made clear to supermarkets what is off limits when they promote products with special offers or discounts.’

Which? has warned that supermarkets could still do much more to reassure customers about the value of any promotion.

Stronger commitment is needed

‘When household budgets are squeezed and food prices are one of people’s top financial worries, it’s unacceptable that shoppers are confused into thinking that they’re getting a good deal when that might not be the case.’ 

Mr Lloyd added: ‘Regulators should be prepared to take enforcement action against traders found breaking the rules.’

Which? has been calling for clear and consistent pricing as part of our Price it Right campaign. Currently, supermarkets do not have to provide the unit price of goods on special offer. Which? would like to see this changed, in addition to a clear and consistent unit price (in kilograms or litres) on all foods.

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