UK competition watchdog to review supermarkets' unit pricing

A woman shops at a Sainsbury's store in London, Britain
A woman shops at a Sainsbury's store in London, Britain December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Britain's competition regulator will examine supermarket groups' so-called unit pricing, or how much a particular product costs by weight or volume, to ensure shoppers can easily compare like for like, it said on Tuesday.

Grocery prices are in the spotlight as Britons grapple with an escalating cost-of-living crisis. Grocery price inflation hit a record 16.7% in January, according to market researcher Kantar.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had kicked off a programme of work into unit pricing practices both instore and online after concerns were raised by stakeholders.

“We know that the increased cost of living has hit the pound in people’s pockets," George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA said.

“That’s why we’re pressing on with this important grocery unit pricing work to ensure shoppers can more easily compare prices and make choices that are right for them.”

The new work follows a 2015 Groceries Super-complaint where the CMA considered food retailers' pricing and promotional practices and concluded that complexities and inconsistencies with unit pricing could prevent people from spotting which deal gives them the best value.

The CMA will consider whether issues identified in 2015 remain, if retailers are complying with the law, as well as consumer awareness and use of unit pricing information.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Kylie MacLellan

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