MyWaitrose deal 2

Source: The Grocer

The restriction will apply to products promoted in-store and online, The Grocer understands

Waitrose is to introduce new restrictions on the length of time products can be promoted online and in stores, ahead of a wider clampdown by the CMA on promotional pricing.

Last week Waitrose notified suppliers by email that it would no longer run price promotions for any lines that have been on sale at a promotional price “for more than half of a rolling 12-month period”.

The limit, which comes into place from 27 September 2023 onwards, “is to ensure we remain compliant with pricing and promotions guidance as set out by the Competition & Markets Authority”. 

The restriction also applies to promotions on any products agreed for secondary space in stores which would have been on promotional price for more than a 26-week period between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023.

The way retailers promote and price their products are again under renewed scrutiny during the cost of living crisis. In January, the CMA kicked off a review into unit pricing across the groceries sector in what the body said was a follow-on from the super-complaint into grocery pricing lodged by consumer body Which? in 2015.

Although ultimately the super-complaint investigation found no widespread evidence of misleading practices, it did identify some inconsistencies between retailers, including how retailers presented prices on promotion.

Promotions were again a significant focus of a review the regulator started in November last year. The review, titled the Online Choice Architecture, looked specifically into the selling tactics used by online retailers and how this could be made clearer for customers. 

Non-binding guidance subsequently issued by the body in an open letter in March 2023 included examples of how retailers could be misleading customers when they advertised a promotional price as a discount even though it had been applied for several months.

“We’ve simply introduced an additional layer of control, to make absolutely sure that our promotions meet legal requirements,” a Waitrose spokeswoman told The Grocer.

The probe into unit pricing comes alongside a wider CMA probe into whether supermarkets and suppliers have been profiteering from the cost of living crisis. The body is set expected to publish findings for both later this month.