Financial News

  • 19 February 2014, 5:04

Supermarket Price Tactics Under Fire Again

Supermarkets have turned the weekly shop into an "obstacle course" with cunning price ploys, according to a consumer group study.

Which? said up to 10 secret pricing tactics are being used by both supermarkets and well-known big brands to maximise profits.

The report comes on the day official data is expected to show inflation is now at the lowest level since 2009.

The pricing tricks include inflating seasonal product prices weeks before consumers need them, reducing items' size but keeping the same price and selling non-discount goods adjacent to special offers.

The study comes after Which? launched a year-long campaign encouraging shops to clarify pricing for so-called specials.

Analysis of data from independent shopping website MySupermarket.co.uk showed examples such as chocolate Easter eggs on sale two months beforehand, with prices 33% more expensive than later pricing.

It urged consumers to approach seasonal offers with caution and to shop around.

Nearly half of all shoppers have been caught out, it said.

Other ploys included the placement of non-discount items next to multi-buy offers and reduced sized packaged good being sold at the same price or even higher.

Multi-buys are sometime more expensive than buying a single item.

The consumer group also reinforced caution when approaching larger pack sizes as they do not always offer better value.

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 and make special offers special."

The group has also urged shoppers to become more proactive in uncovering unscrupulous tactics by using a template complaint letter to send to trading standards officers.

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