Eight grocers in the U.K. have agreed to follow new guidelines over promotions after complaints about the veracity of special offers.
The agreement followed an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that analyzed how prices are advertised and promoted in grocers. The guidelines particularly address how prices may be artificially inflated to make later discounts look more attractive. It is a voluntary code and not legally binding.
The new guidelines cover:
The regulatory agency did not discover any illegality during its investigation, but did find some "inconsistency" in the way the law was interpreted and applied.
"Household budgets across the country are under pressure and shoppers should be able to trust that special offers and promotions really are bargains," said Clive Maxwell, the chief executive of the OFT, in a statement.
A investigation by watchdog group, Which?, in May found in some cases discount prices ran for much longer than the original prices, drawing extensive media attention in the U.K. press and admissions by some supermarkets to isolated errors.
The retailers agreeing to the new guidelines were Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Aldi, the Co-op and Lidl. Nearly all issued statements offering support for more transparency in pricing.
Walmart's Asda was the lone major grocery chain not agreeing to the guidelines. A company spokesperson told The Telegraph that Asda was "taking some time to consider the recommendations in detail."
How would you rate the level of price transparency in grocers' promotions in the U.S.?