New guidance aimed at stopping misleading and confusing pricing tactics used by some retailers has been published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). 

The Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices replaces the former Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Pricing Practices Guide and is targeted towards helping consumers get a fair deal.   

An investigation into misleading pricing strategies by Which? uncovered a number of complaints from disgruntled shoppers on misleading practices in the grocery sector. Some retailers were found to be confusing consumers into sales by creating a façade of savings that did not actually exist.

The Competition and Markets Authority has recommended a series of measures to give shoppers greater clarity and confidence that they are getting a fair deal.  

Adrian Simpson, CTSI’s business education and consumer codes expert, said: “Consumers lead busy lives and are subjected to an increasingly wide range of products, product options and sophisticated marketing. But clear, honest and upfront pricing is beneficial to both consumers and businesses. 

“Retailers must ensure the information they present to consumers is fair and does not waste time or cause annoyance, disappointment or regret. Neither should it cause a consumer to overspend or buy a product that is inappropriate for them. In light of the new guidance we are urging businesses to review their pricing practices and reassess their fairness.”  

The guidance provides an overview of consumer protection legislation relating to pricing and associated practices, for all traders. The legislation has not changed and retailers must continue to comply with it. Enforcers are likely to give retailers until April 2017 to adjust to the new guidance.    

The Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy is considering the recommendations made by the CMA, particularly on unit pricing. 

Margot James, consumer minister, said: “Consumers are looking for best value but it can sometimes be difficult to work out whether special offers and promotional deals represent true value for money. This new guide will help traders give clear pricing information to their customers, who should be at the heart of every business. I’d like to thank the Chartered Trading Standards Institute for carrying out this important work.” 

The full guidance is available here: