The competition watchdog hopes its new programme will help shoppers spot value for money as households struggle with rising costs
In July 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its response to a super-complaint from the consumer association Which? regarding alleged misleading pricing practices in the groceries sector. It concluded, among other findings, that complexities and inconsistencies with unit pricing may have adversely affected consumers’ ability to make meaningful choices between products. The CMA found examples of particular pricing and promotional practices with the potential to mislead or confuse consumers (including issues of legibility and consistency with regard to unit pricing), noting that these could lead to consumer law breaches.
On 31 January 2023, the CMA announced it is starting a new programme of work concerning unit pricing practices online and instore in the groceries sector. Referring to the rising cost of living, the CMA’s press release states that consumers need confidence they possess the right information, should be able to compare products like for like, and that this (together with recent concerns raised by stakeholders) has led the CMA to revisit this issue.
The CMA’s new work into unit pricing will consider the following:
- Whether the unit pricing issues identified during the 2015 super-complaint persist
- Compliance with the law by retailers
- Consumer awareness and use of unit pricing information
This project is currently at an early stage – the CMA has stated that it has not yet formed a view on these issues and will provide an update later in 2023.