Following this morning’s announcement that the CMA can find no evidence of widespread attempts by supermarkets to mislead shoppers over prices and promotions, the industry issued their reactions.
“The CMA’s findings confirm that there is no systematic brinkmanship by supermarkets and that compliance by the major players is generally pretty good,” said Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights at Kantar Retail. ”There is clearly work to do in terms of unit pricing - something that several of the retailers have realised and are already improving - and supermarkets need to raise their game with regards to the smoke and mirrors around price establishment. We maintain our view that the best deterrent against these smoke and mirrors will be the ongoing success of the German discounters rather than regulatory meddling.”
“It is very clear that the allegations contained in the super complaint were blown out of all proportion and that the CMA recognises supermarkets take compliance seriously,” said Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the BRC. ”Our members will continue to work closely on the Pricing Practices Guide to ensure transparency and fair treatment for our customers.”
Aldi also issued a comment, emphasising the lack of promotions at the discounter. “We thank Which? for bringing the issue of price transparency to the regulator’s attention. Customers want clear, simple and consistent pricing wherever they shop, not misleading and confusing gimmicks.
“At Aldi, we are committed to everyday low pricing. Less than 10 per cent of our products are on promotion at any one time, exclusive to fresh meat and produce, compared with over 40 per cent of products across the market. We have a fundamentally different model and approach to other retailers which is based on providing the lowest prices in grocery in a simple and transparent way for our customers. This is why more and more people are switching to Aldi.”
Louise Cooper of CooperCity offered a dissenting opinion. ”On things that we all tend to buy regularly, supermarkets don’t play funny games with prices because most of us are aware of what the price should be. It is the occasional or less regular purchase where supermarkets play the wild swinging prices game.
”Listening to the woman from the Competition and Markets Authority this morning on Today programme highlighted to me “regulatory capture” where a regulator gets way too close to the industry it is supposed to be regulating. My particular favourite was the “let’s work with the industry” comment which shows how wrong the culture at the CMA is.
”As a society do we want true capitalism - where businesses compete on price and service and the best wins? Or do we want capitalism that relies on asymmetry of information - that consumers can’t understand the games the business play with overly complex pricing and therefore get ripped off. I would argue loudly for the first and against the second.
”Pricing confusion and obfuscation is everywhere. It is not capitalism.”