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Politician seeks clarity over supermarket pricing

11 January 2013 - 09:50 by Paul Tissington

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John Denham, who is an MP and a former cabinet minister, is going to call for new regulations, which require supermarkets to publish price information that covers both online offers and in-store costs.

This is with a view to giving consumers a better opportunity to compare the major retailers and find out where the best deals can be found.

At the moment, the various price comparison services only allow users to see the average prices of particular products across the UK, which does not take into account regional fluctuations and many other aspects that are missed out under the current system.

Denham said that supermarkets already have access to this specific pricing data, but are not currently obliged to share it with the consumer, which is something he wants to change.

He believes that by opening up this information to public scrutiny, it would be possible for software developers to build m-commerce apps, that could instantly analyse offers and tell consumers whether they are really getting a good deal.

This would bleed into a multichannel approach, allowing customers to pick up some of their goods via safe shopping online, while choosing to venture to their nearest bricks and mortar supermarket for whatever items can be purchased more affordably in-store.

Denham pointed out that supermarkets should not really have any qualms with this new price comparison approach, because it is possible to get the information already, albeit by time-consuming means.

Part of the problem is that many supermarkets do not currently offer services for safe shopping online, including the likes of Morrisons and Aldi. This makes it difficult to do complete comparisons on a like for like basis.

Hopefully MPs will be able to ensure that retailers are more transparent in their pricing strategies, since this will benefit consumers.