Shoppers like rounded prices, and they're catching on in convenience, says HIM's Georgina Wild

There is currently a lot of debate about the merits of rounded price points - those £1/£2 prices instead of the traditional 99p or £1.99 used in stores.

HIM's recent convenience tracking programme (CTP) web survey spoke to 500 shoppers about just this subject and identified that 50% of convenience store shoppers had noticed more products on sale in supermarkets at rounded prices.

Some 53% of shoppers said that they like it when food stores use rounded prices, but 11% said they didn't and 36% were indifferent, so their use is obviously not everyone's cup of tea. This may be because it is a relatively new concept to which customers are just getting used to.

The benefit of rounded price points is that they are easy for customers to understand, and they are certainly easier to calculate. And for retailers they lend themselves to providing a simple clear message to communicate to shoppers.

They do not work for every sku, however, and therefore retailers do need to identify those value or promotional lines where it could work.

HIM has done a huge amount of research into the impact of price and promotional mechanics on customers. It's clear that today's shoppers are looking for value for money - they want to feel that they are getting a good deal.

Some 29% of CTP customers said that they regard value for money as something the store must deliver against. And promotions play a big part of the perception of value - 57% of shoppers believe that promotions lead to better value from a retailer.

Marks & Spencer seems to have championed the use of rounded price points, starting with the £2 meal deal. This was a great idea, but it has to be said that choice of sandwich and salad and its value crisps range is limited.

M&S has also become famous for its 'dine in for two for £10' promotion, in which two people can choose a main course, side dish, dessert and a bottle of wine for £10. Tesco duly followed suit with its own 'dine in for two' promotion.

Sainsbury's, meanwhile, is offering to feed your family for a fiver.

It does seem that rounded price points might be here to stay and something c-store retailers should consider.