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Which? demands chains make their offers clearer, insisting unit pricing is an important tool for people. Some versions of the same product can cost up to three-and-a-half times more per unit, the research revealed.
Which? found 72 percent of people could not work out the cheapest buy in a range of supermarket items.
The study tracked for three months the prices of 10 popular groceries, including Coca-Cola, own-label semi-skimmed milk, Dairy Milk chocolate, Nescafe coffee and Weetabix at Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
In one example at Tesco, up to 17 different-sized versions of Coca-Cola were available with prices varying between 11p and 50p per 100ml.
That is 346 percent more for a shopper who buys four 250ml glass bottles at £5 than one who picks up a 1.5-litre bottle at £1.68.
The price per 100ml of own-brand semi-skimmed milk varied between 6p and 13p at Morrisons – that is 133 percent more for a shopper choosing a 500ml bottle at 65p than one picking a 2.27-litre one at £1.27.
The watchdog also visited branches of nine major supermarket stores – Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – and found a multitude of problems with unit pricing.
Fruit and vegetables were given a price each, per pack or per 1kg. That made it difficult to compare prices.
There was confusing terminology per “piece” and “each”.
Many times the price per unit was shown but did not apply to an offer, promotion or other price reduction.
Which? looked at nine major supermarket websites – Aldi, Amazon Fresh, Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Researchers were unable to find unit pricing for any multi-buys.
Sue Davies, from Which?, said: “Unclear supermarket pricing means the vast majority of people are left struggling to find the best deal.”
Which? approached the retailers but only Lidl and Waitrose responded.
Lidl said it “always endeavour to ensure pricing information is as clear as possible” while Waitrose stated it “regularly reviews all our products to ensure our unit pricing is clear so customers can save money”.
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