This week, the CMA launched a new programme of work looking into unit pricing practices online and instore in the groceries sector.
Unit pricing shows how much a particular product costs by weight or volume, which helps people identify best value for money.
So, are the folks at the CMA off their trolley in trying to grapple with this issue? No. I think they are onto something!
Personally, as a shopper, I welcome this investigation. I've lost count of the number of times I have tried to compare two or more products in the supermarket, clutching one in one hand and one in the other, trying to work out which represents the best value for money. The labelling immediately next to the price seems to make it difficult, unnecessarily. One product will be based on £ per 100g, the other nearly identical product will be based on £ per Kilogram, or £ per bundled item, and there might be a mixture of £ versus pence thrown in for an added layer of complexity.
I appreciate it doesn't sound particularly tricky to convert one to another, even if you are as bad at mental arithmetic as I am, but when a shopper wants to get in and out of a supermarket, and you are juggling mental shopping lists, it is far from a straightforward experience.
It can be compounded when there are discounts and offers in the mix, including multi-buys - making it even harder to work out if the price per unit is before or after the saving, or whether the saving on the other product is calculated in the same way...
All in all, we need a clean up on aisle four.
Call me a cynic, but it often seems to me a deliberate attempt by supermarkets to muddy the water and lead us to make a hasty decision based on instinct rather than on the facts. There is no other valid reason I can think of for having different ways to measure the value per 100g of two almost identical competing products that sit side by side on a shelf.
Luckily for consumers, the CMA is now on the case.
The CMA has conducted several investigations into supermarkets and their practices over recent years - not all of them have led to significant improvements, but let's hope this one will lead to greater consistency in this area.
It's a self-contained issue, and seemingly pretty easy to fix... To keep it simple, having all supermarkets show a £ per 100g for their products is one off-the-shelf solution you could have from me for nothing!
Every little helps!
You can find more information on this issue here: CMA launches grocery unit pricing review to help shoppers spot the best value for their money - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)