/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Morrisons and Sainsbury’s will Price it Right – who’s next?

fruit with plate and 'price it right' logo

For the second time in as many weeks I’m giving good news – no sooner had we redoubled our efforts to get supermarkets to display clearer unit pricing than two major supermarkets stood up to the challenge.

Morrisons has said it will start rolling out clearer and more consistent unit pricing labels, meaning that when you’re choosing between two similar products you’ll be able to tell at a glance which one represents the best value.

This is really important given that people all over the country are struggling with their budgets – we need to be able to tell whether a special offer genuinely offers better value, so we can get the most for our money.

By the end of 2013, all Morrisons stores will have shelf-edge labels showing a large, clear price per litre or kilo for products, such as in the example to the left. And it isn’t alone – Sainsbury’s has also announced that it’s trialling clearer unit pricing in stores, with the aim of moving to a clearer system.

Two down, more to go

One of the things I’ve learnt in the last (almost) two years working on Which? Campaigns is that it is really valuable when one or two companies take the lead on something. It’s all very well us calling for simpler energy tariffs or genuinely fixed mobile contracts, but often the thing that prevents change is that the industry cannot see how to make the changes.

We’re met with worries and concerns that if they make the change it will put them at a commercial disadvantage, that the changes are too difficult or expensive etc. But these concerns often melt away when they see that other companies are able to step up to the plate.

The question we’re asking supermarkets changes from ‘could you give us clearer unit pricing?’ to ‘if they can do it, why can’t you?’ And that’s really exciting for campaigners – the domino effect can be powerful – especially in industries where giving customers what they want can have a huge impact on businesses.

Misleading supermarket prices?

By taking steps to implement clearer unit pricing, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are showing that they’ve listened to their customers. Our research, released this week, showed that 74% of people feel misled by supermarket prices. Personally, I’m annoyed that the lack of unit pricing makes it harder to distinguish the genuine deals from the ones that just shout ‘Buy me! Buy me! I’m on special offer!’

Customers aren’t stupid – we’re savvy and getting even savvier as our budgets get squeezed further. We know that somewhere, among all of the big bright ‘2 for 1!’ labels, there are real bargains – the question is just finding them. It seems from our research that people feel these are a little too hidden at the moment, and one of the best ways for a supermarket to show that it is listening to customers is to help them find these deals.

Clearer unit pricing means that you’ll be able to compare like-for-like items (and we’d like this to include all special offers) by weight or volume. You won’t need to choose between a 2-for-1 on 400g of cheese at £3.29 or a cheaper 500g of cheese at £2.10. Unit prices will mean that next to each product there’ll be a clear label saying £4.11 per kilo or £4.20 per kilo. Hey presto – you know which is the better value cheese.

So, this post is partly a celebration and partly a challenge. I’m delighted that one of the campaigns I’ve been working on for months has helped two supermarkets make the right decision on unit pricing – so well done to Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. And I’m perhaps even more pleased that we can extend the challenge further – Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer et al – what are you waiting for? If the others can do it, then why can’t you?

Comments
Member

I was in Marks & Spencer this afternoon and was met again with the multibuys on salad and fruit, I also noticed that prepacked apples were priced at £2.70? and the unit price was per apple. How can you compare packaged fruit with loose fruit if you are not given the correct information. I asked to see the manager and explained the problem I had with their pricing policy. He told me he would bring up the matter with his superiors in their weekly meeting. I don’t hold out much hope but if we all complained to the store managers they may do something just to get rid of us.

Member

What really annoys me are the “special offers” where I’m sure supermarkets deliberalty mis-lead customers.
For example – you see an offer on say a particular brand of yogurt. The microscopic misleading and unclear, (or sometimes missing ??) labels on the shelf state that this only applies to certain flavours or sizes. But of course all the yogurts on offer, and those that are not, are all mixed up together on the shelf.
You have to one your toes to ensure that you pick the correct ones. How many customers then check the items after they have gone through the till – I do, but I bet there are many that don’t.
However our local small supermarket – a NISA store, does actually put clear labelling on the shelf stating what is and isn’t in the offer – take note Tesco !

Member

How many time have customer gone in to Morrison, walked past a shelf with a special offer that week, only to find they have put a very similar product on the same shelf with the same offer price which is twice the price of the one being advertised, then you get to the till and realise you have been taken in once again, I am concerned about this because some shoppers are in a rush and never look at the till receipt ? this is done to deceive and happens quite a lot in the my local supermarket,

Member
Eva Bolander says:
26 August 2013

My local Morrison doesn’t seem to know anything about your campaign. Last time I was in I did ask them. Fruit and veg are often labelled inconsistently with either price per kg, or per unit, for different varieties or brand of the same type, ie apples, tomatoes and bananas to mention a few. Need to find a scale to work out which are the cheapest.. Or maybe I should just ask the staff to go with me and calculate it for me..