Competition and Markets Authority accuses supermarkets of "confusing" promotions

Emma Haslett
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The CMA recommended that supermarkets provide "further clarity" on special offer items (Source: Getty)

You could say the UK's competition body has just told supermarkets to BOGOF, after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) accused supermarkets of "confusing" people about special offers

The after a major three-month investigation, the CMA said with 40 per cent of spending on groceries going on items on offer, shoppers are still being misled about what's really on sale.

The investigation came after a "super-complaint" by consumer organisation Which?. The complaint accused supermarkets of "confusing and misleading special offers", a "lack of easily comparable prices" and "reductions in pack sizes without any corresponding price change".

The CMA said it was recommending "further action to improve compliance and ensure that shoppers have clear, accurate information".

As part of those, it said it wanted to clarify when grocers can use a "was" price when they're putting items on offer, and when they can use out-of-season prices when they're claiming in-season stock is on special offer.

It asked the Business Department to produce best practice guidelines on the legibility of pricing information, and asked it to look into how consumers use prices in their decision-making, suggesting that consumer organisations could play a greater role in educating shoppers.

It also raised the "price match" schemes blamed for driving down inflation, recommending the information retailers use is made as "clear and transparent as possible".

"There are still areas of poor practice that could confuse or mislead shoppers," admitted Nisha Arora, senior director of the CMA's consumer department.

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