Supermarket Pricing Tactics Revealed

A new investigation has revealed some of the pricing tactics used by supermarkets and big brands to get shoppers to part with their cash.

Since Which? launched its campaign in November calling on supermarkets to ‘Make Special Offers Special’, it has found more examples of confusing multi-buys and pricing oddities in stores. Its latest investigation reveals 10 pricing tactics found in supermarkets.

Data from the independent shopping website MySupermarket.co.uk was analysed and found supermarkets selling seasonal products at a higher price weeks before shoppers needed them.

For example, Cadbury’s Giant Creme Egg was £10 in Tesco and Sainsbury’s in February last year. It was then on offer at Tesco for £8 and at Sainsbury’s for £6.66 from March onwards in the lead up to Easter.

More than two in five shoppers (44 per cent) say they’ve bought something they thought was on offer but turned out not to be. The investigation found an example of this in Marks & Spencer, where mixed grapes were positioned next to a ’2 for £4′ sign but the grapes nearest to the sign weren’t included in the offer.

Other pricing tactics we uncovered were products shrinking in size but the price remaining the same and in some cases even increasing.  The investigation also discovered that a bigger pack doesn’t always mean better value. Even though some of the bigger packs claimed to be at a special price, we sometimes found buying smaller packs or separate items worked out cheaper.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “We’ve uncovered pricing tactics that make shopping for weekly groceries look like tackling an obstacle course. With consumers struggling to cope with rising food prices, supermarkets and manufacturers need to make it easier for people to spot the best deal and ‘Make Special Offers Special’.

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