The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking insights from consumers and industry stakeholders as part of its ongoing inquiry into the country’s supermarket sector. 

The competition regulator has published an online survey and an issues paper to gather information on shopping habits, pricing strategies’ influence and the sector’s competitive dynamics. 

Respondents of the online survey are encouraged to enhance their understanding of grocery purchasing patterns, including the impact of price changes and loyalty programmes.  

The survey, open until 2 April 2024, also seeks experiences related to potentially misleading practices such as “was/now” pricing or “shrinkflation,” in which products are reduced in size but sold at the same or higher prices.  

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said: “We know that consumers and suppliers alike have a range of concerns about Australia’s major supermarkets, and this is their chance to have their say. 

“We will be using our legal powers to compulsorily obtain data and documents from the supermarkets themselves, but consultation with consumers and grocery sector participants is an important first step in our inquiry.” 

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The ACCC has invited industry participants, including farmers, wholesalers and retailers, to submit their perspectives in response to the issues paper, which addresses competition for consumer retail spending and grocery supply chains.  

The commission aims to investigate the barriers faced by new or expanding supermarkets and how competition varies across different regions of Australia. 

The inquiry will further examine the competitive landscape within grocery supply chains, focusing on trading arrangements, margins, price transparency and the potential impact of supermarket buyer power on suppliers’ commercial viability. 

Mick Keogh added: “We will conduct a detailed comparison of the price suppliers receive for their goods and the price consumers pay at the checkout, and the profits the supermarkets earn.” 

“In addition, we will be looking at other issues such as loyalty schemes, discounting practices, the shift to online shopping and the impact of home-brand products.” 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported a 1.1% increase in retail turnover in January 2024, following a 2.1% decline in December 2023.  

The rebound was observed across all non-food industries, with clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing experiencing the most significant rise at 2.4%.