Asda is so far the only supermarket to confirm it will change its price promotions in light of an investigation by the competition watchdog into pricing tactics.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today said it had asked a number of supermarkets (including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda) to review their promotional offers after a 'super-complaint' was issued in April 2015 accusing stores of ripping off customers.
As part of its investigation, the CMA identified concerns with how Asda in particular compares current prices with previous prices. Asda has consequently agreed to overhaul its pricing strategy by August 2016.
Elsewhere, all the other supermarkets approached by the CMA in relation to the complaint have agreed to review their pricing strategies. We will update this story with the full list of the other supermarkets that were approached during this investigation once we get confirmation from the CMA. They include Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda.
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What happens next?
While all supermarkets contacted by the CMA regarding the complaint have agreed to review their pricing strategies, Asda specifically has agreed to do the following by August:
- To not advertise 'now' prices for longer than the 'was' price applied, ensuring they're a meaningful comparison.
- To make sure multi-buy offers are better value than a single product before such offers.
- To ensure multi-buy offers will not be immediately followed by 'was/now' promotions, so it will be easier for shoppers to tell what is a good offer.
The CMA has confirmed it will continue to work with supermarkets over pricing and will check how Asda's new price strategies are working six months from today.
What was the super-complaint?
The original super-complaint was made in April 2015 by consumer group Which?. It accused supermarkets of deliberately using pricing strategies to confuse customers so they couldn't make informed decisions about products they wanted to purchase.
Pricing strategies included reducing the size of products without altering the price, using misleading special offers and not providing comparable prices for customers.
The Which? super-complaint sparked the subsequent CMA investigation. Michael Grenfell, the CMA's executive director of enforcement, says: "The CMA's examination of the market, following the super-complaint, found that supermarkets generally take compliance seriously, but there were some promotional practices that could mislead shoppers.
"We welcome the commitment we have received from Asda as well as the engagement from other supermarkets, and expect them all to ensure that their practices are not misleading and that shoppers are better informed and able to choose the products that most suit their needs."