The aim of fair trading is to ensure truthfulness of trade and prevent consumers being misled during contractual negotiations for goods and services. Such legislation includes the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Improving Consumer Transparency
The Government published their response to the ‘improving consumer transparency’ on 24 January. The key proposals from Government, having considered the responses, are below.
The Government proposes to make various amendments to the Price Marking Order and associated guidance to tackle the following:
Government will explore further options on how there can be better use of consistent measures for the unit pricing of products.
Introduce clear legibility criteria for instore price labels.
Define which types of promotional or loyalty scheme offers should be included within the scope of the Price Marking Order.
Make provision for the Deposit Return Scheme so the cost of the deposit is displayed separately on price labels (working with Defra and Scottish and Welsh Governments.
To access the full document go to Gov.uk.
Competition and Markets Authority Report
On the 20 July 2023, the CMA published a report on pricing within retail premises. You can access the full report here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/unit-pricing
The focus of the review was primarily on the unit pricing practices of 11 nationwide supermarkets but it also considered the unit pricing practices of seven nationwide variety store retailers that sell general merchandise such as hardware, toys, furniture and seasonal goods alongside a relatively small selection of groceries.
The review found problems in the following areas:-
- missing or incorrectly calculated unit pricing information
- incorrect units of measurement
- different unit metrics being used for the same type of product
- retailers taking different approaches to displaying unit prices for products on promotion both in-store and online, with some retailers not displaying unit prices for discounted products at all;
- examples of unit prices in-store, particularly among the variety stores, which we consider are difficult to read;
- certain pages on some retailers’ websites not providing a unit price alongside a selling price until individual items were selected.
Many problems were similar to the issues identified in the 2015 Groceries super-complaint. At that time, the CMA made recommendations to the UK government to review and reform the Price Marking Order 2004 (PMO). Ambiguities in the PMO continue to be problematic. Compliance with the PMO was worse amongst some of the variety store retailers, compared to the supermarkets.
The CMA has written directly to certain supermarkets and variety store retailers to highlight specific non-compliance concerns and to tell them to take action to address the concerns that we have identified. CMA are ready to take enforcement action if they do not see improvements.
The CMA are also making recommendations to the UK government to reform the PMO and related legislation to improve unit pricing. Recommendations relate to the consistency, definitions and legibility requirements.
For more detailed guidance contained on the various legislative provisions go to the following links:
- Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
- Ban on Excessive Charges for Use of Debit and Credit Cards
- Counterfeit Goods
- Essential Packaging Requirements
- Energy Labelling of Household Products
- Energy Performance Certificates
- Labelling of Textile Products
- Footwear Labelling
- Redress schemes for Letting Agents
Copies of the legislation can be accessed through legislation.gov.uk.
Please note that this information has no legal force and is not an authoritative interpretation of the law, which is a matter for the Courts. It is intended to help business to understand in general terms, the main features of the legislation. The information is not a substitute for the legislation and you should refer to the text of the legislation for a full statement of legal requirements and obligations. Where appropriate, you should seek your own independent legal advice.
Trading Standards service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Email: email@example.com
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