• The examination by the CMA follows a complaint from consumer watchdog Which?
  • Supermarkets stand accused of using unlawful pricing
  • Research reveals that shoppers are spending an extra £11.14 a week more due to “deals”

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is reportedly finalising plans to take action against supermarkets for misleading customers with confusing pricing and promotions. 

The investigation by the consumer watchdog could lead to the banning of misleading buy-one-get-one-free offers and special deals in supermarkets within weeks. Supermarkets could be forced to tighten their pricing and those found to be offering unlawful deals could be prosecuted and fined, according to The Telegraph.

The CMA’s investigation into the pricing practices of supermarkets was triggered by Which?, after the consumer group accused supermarkets of offering misleading and unclear promotions and prices in order to encourage shoppers to spend more. 

Supermarkets Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Ocado were all found to be offering misleading deals.

The news comes as research has found that on average shoppers splash out an extra £11.14 a week more than they planned after being seduced by “deals”. More than three-quarters (76%) said they regularly over-spend on their weekly grocery shop, according to the findings from Money Advice Service, a Government-backed body.

Further research from Money Advice Service found that the majority of shoppers were unable to separate good value deals from poor deals. Just 2% of people were able to select the best-value option from four sets of multi-buy offers.

John Penberthy-Smith, customer director at the Money Advice Service, told the newspaper: “The problem is that quite often we see a special offer at the supermarket and we don’t want to miss out – so we throw it into our trolley without really thinking about whether it is a good deal or whether we actually need it.

“Often deals can be difficult to understand and compare with other prices. Then there’s waste – even if the offers are cheaper, bigger packets or 50% extra are not always good value for money if we end up chucking most of it away.”

A CMA spokesman said: “Following the CMA’s response to the Which? super-complaint published on July 16, 2015, we have been undertaking further analysis of the potentially misleading practices identified in our report and establishing our priorities for further action.”