Quote, unquote: UK grocers and OFT code on promos
Eight of the UK's major grocers have today (30 November) announced their agreement to sign up to a set of "principles" on special offers and promotions on food and drink products. The principles will mean consumers can "rely" on promotions "being fair and meaningful". Here, we get the views of the retailers that have signed up, analysts and campaigners.
"We work hard to ensure we offer competitive prices and fair, meaningful promotions to our customers. We always try to use simple and clear information, so we welcome the OFT's clarity on good practices and support their wish to see a consistent approach to promotions across the sector."
"At Aldi, we have always been committed to everyday low pricing. However, we support any initiative that encourages transparent pricing and a fair deal for consumers. Aldi customers will see no difference in pricing or the shopping experience."
"At Lidl, we consider customer satisfaction and transparency to be at the forefront of our business, and the OFT's set of principles for fair pricing practices is fully in line with our own pricing policies we have set ourselves. For example we do not inflate prices of products before a promotion to artificially imply a saving to the customer. For this reason the pricing of products in Lidl stores will not be affected as we will continue to apply these principles to our prices in stores."
"Waitrose already has clear principles in place to ensure that our pricing is clear and transparent for our customers - so we are supportive of the OFT's announcement."
Rod Street, SymphonyIRI executive vice president, international consulting
"These look like a sensible response to a supercharged promotional environment. The UK has amongst the highest level of promoted grocery products in the world. This hyper-promotion makes shoppers annoyed and stressed trying to work out what is real value for money. It is in the retailers own interests to make sure that deals are accurately presented to avoid inflating levels of distrust and cynicism which have only served to undermine perceptions of value."
Richard Lloyd, executive director at consumer watchdog Which?
"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. We now want the retailers to go further and make a stronger commitment to fair treatment of their customers, so that as well as scrapping misleading promotions they ensure busy shoppers see clear, consistent unit pricing with real bargains that are easy to spot at a glance.
"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. Regulators should be prepared to take enforcement action against traders found breaking the rules.”
Conlumino analyst Joseph Robinson
"It's definitely a step in the right direction. There was quite intense media scrutiny with regard to suppliers and retailers a couple of months back, so it's definitely a step in the right direction. Consumers are much more likely to find out when it's negative coverage around these sorts of issues than they are about signing up to these sort of things.
"I've seen some reports that Asda wants more time to actually examine the proposals before it signs up to it. There is every chance the remaining retailers will sign up as well, but it is surprising given the likes of Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Waitrose have all signed up, but there is every chance Asda will eventually sign up to it to."
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