The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called on grocery retailers to ensure the accuracy of their in-store pricing.  

The directive follows a review which discovered that 60% of pricing errors led to customers being overcharged at checkout.  

The CMA investigated the price marking practices of 139 grocery stores across England and Wales, including supermarket chains and small, independent retailers that operate under a symbol brand name.

It found that 4.2% of supermarkets, 14.4% of symbol convenience stores, 5.6% of variety stores and 7.8% of independent food stores experienced pricing errors.  

The regulator’s on-site inspections focused on products including fresh groceries and promotional items, revealing instances of inaccurate pricing and the absence of price displays for certain products. 

Independent food stores and symbol convenience stores were predominantly where pricing issues occurred. Common problems included missing prices, conflicting prices and prices not displayed near the products. 

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Issues also arose with prices not being legible, obscured selling prices and unclear multibuy promotion labels.  

The findings echo similar issues identified by regional and local Trading Standards in England and Wales and previous work by the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland and Northern Ireland Trading Standards.  

CMA consumer protection and markets interim executive director George Lusty said: We know how frustrating it can be when you get to the till only to find the price doesn’t match what was advertised. While lots of grocery retailers – particularly supermarkets – are complying with pricing rules, this needs to consistently be the case across all types of stores. 

“It’s important that shoppers can make well-informed choices based on accurate information, especially at a time when lots of people are looking to save money. That’s why we are reminding businesses of the importance of complying with consumer law.” 

The authority has released a poster to help independent retailers understand how to comply with consumer law and the steps to be taken for accurate price marking. 

In January 2024, the CMA announced plans to initiate a review of supermarket loyalty pricing.