Pricing tactics in supermarkets revealed

A NEW Which? investigation reveals some of the pricing tactics used by supermarkets and big brands to get shoppers to part with their cash.

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Since Which? launched its campaign in November calling on supermarkets to ‘Make Special Offers Special ‘, we’ve found even more examples of confusing multibuys and pricing oddities in stores. Our latest investigation reveals 10 pricing tactics found in supermarkets.


We analysed data from the independent shopping website and found supermarkets selling seasonal products at a higher price weeks before most of us need them. For example, Cadbury’s Giant Creme Egg was £10 in Tesco and Sainsbury’s in February last year. It was then on offer at Tesco for £8 and at Sainsbury’s for £6.66 from March onwards in the lead up to Easter. Our advice would be to approach seasonal offers with caution and shop around.


More than two in five shoppers (44%) say they’ve bought something they thought was on offer but turned out not to be. We found an example of this in Marks & Spencer, where mixed grapes were positioned next to a ‘2 for £4’ sign but the grapes nearest to the sign weren’t included in the offer, so check your receipt to see if the offer was registered.


Other pricing tactics we uncovered were products shrinking in size but the price remaining the same and in some cases even increasing. We also discovered that a bigger pack doesn’t always mean better value. Even though some of the bigger packs claimed to be at a special price, we sometimes found buying smaller packs or separate items worked out cheaper.


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.”


Find out what your consumer rights are if you think you’ve been misled by a special offer  and use our letter template to complain to Trading Standards