The OFT’s announcement that eight retailers have agreed to a set of principles over special offers and promotions is a welcome move.

The Office of Fair Trading’s announcement that eight retailers have agreed to a set of principles following concerns over special offers and promotions on food and drink is surely a welcome move, although I suspect shoppers will wonder why it took so long.

For the last couple of years our grocery stores have been inundated with promotions as different retailers use offers to demonstrate that they are delivering value to today’s hard pressed shoppers. And yet all too often these offers turn out to be anything but. Almost every shopper has a personal anecdote of deals that were either plain wrong or rip-offs. The ‘price reduction’ flashes that on closer inspection turn out to be 0p saving; the buy two for £2 ‘deals’ on a product that costs 98p per pack; or the bigger better value flash on pack which has a higher per unit price than the smaller pack.

Because these are personal experiences it means that shoppers increasingly treat promotions with a degree of cynicism, and trust is being eroded to such an extent that shoppers feel they have to read the small print or carefully check the offer against standard price before making a decision. All of this takes time, which is not something many people have a lot of these days, least of all when they’ve a whole supermarket to get round.

Perhaps the worst offenders are those offers which run on and on for such a length of time that the promoted price effectively becomes the real price in shoppers’ minds. Whilst shoppers are much more price aware these days because of the recession an extended period offer can overwrite the real price in their minds, in which case is it really a deal anymore?

So, the OFT agreement is good news - as long as it leads to change. The fact that the supermarkets who’ve signed up appear to feel they are already using these principles might mean visible change takes a while to emerge.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director, Shoppercentric