Supermarkets could face an inquiry from competition watchdogs over ‘misleading’ pricing tactics that could be costing shoppers hundreds of millions of pounds.

Supermarkets could be investigated over pricing

Consumer group Which? has used its legal powers to issue a so-called ‘super-complaint’ against grocers, accusing retailers of ripping off shoppers with “misleading” and “confusing” prices.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) now has 90 days to examine a dossier of evidence, which has been gathered by Which? over a seven-year period, and issue a response.

It could lead to a formal inquiry or even the passing of new legislation.  

“These dodgy offers remain on numerous supermarket shelves.”

Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?

Which? has accused supermarkets of creating an illusion of savings by using multi-buy offers and shrinking pack sizes without dropping prices.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, around 40% of groceries are now sold on promotion and Which? claimed the “dodgy offers” could be costing shoppers hundreds of millions of pounds.

Promotions including ‘was/now’ price labelling and multi-buys have become more widely used across the grocery industry during the past year as supermarket giants including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons adjust prices to fight back against discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Despite Which? repeatedly exposing misleading and confusing pricing tactics, and calling for voluntary change by the retailers, these dodgy offers remain on numerous supermarket shelves.

“Shoppers think they’re getting a bargain, but in reality, it’s impossible for any consumer to know if they’re genuinely getting a fair deal.

“We’re saying enough is enough and using one of the most powerful legal weapons in our armoury to act on behalf of consumers by launching a super-complaint to the regulator.

“We want an end to misleading pricing tactics and for all retailers to use fair pricing that people can trust.”