Supermarkets Under Fire for Misleading Discount Deals

Australia’s leading supermarkets are under scrutiny for potentially misleading shoppers with promotional offers that may not deliver the discounts they promise.

A study by consumer advocacy group Choice found that one in four shoppers struggle to discern whether a supermarket label indicates a genuine price reduction. Over 1000 consumers nationwide participated in the research, which focused on common phrases like “down down,” “member price,” and “prices dropped” used by Woolworths, Coles, and Aldi.

Among these labels, Coles’ “while stocks last” tag emerged as the most confusing, according to the report submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Supermarkets Inquiry. Coles clarified that these tags signify items available for a limited time, likely not to be restocked once sold out. However, one-third of surveyed shoppers believed these products were discounted, while another third were uncertain.

Similarly, Woolworths’ “member price” tag caused significant confusion, with nearly a third of respondents incorrectly assuming the product was discounted. Meanwhile, Aldi’s “super savers” label left many consumers unsure if it indicated a discount.

Choice emphasized the increasing difficulty for consumers to decipher these promotional tags, calling them “confusing and potentially misleading.” Without additional information or historical pricing data, consumers struggle to determine if they’re truly getting a good deal.

Both Woolworths and Aldi responded to the report, highlighting their commitment to offering value to customers. Woolworths stated its efforts to clearly and accurately display prices and provide savings, while Aldi reiterated its focus on maintaining low prices across its range.

Coles defended its promotional strategies, stating they are aimed at providing value to customers and promised to enhance clarity in their labelling.

Choice urged for transparent pricing practices from supermarkets and called for enforcement action from the ACCC to deter misleading pricing practices. They emphasized the importance of clear communication to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

The report submitted to the ACCC inquiry aims to address pricing practices and ensure fairness in the relationship between wholesale and retail prices. Choice advocates for robust enforcement to discourage misleading pricing tactics by supermarkets.

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