Thursday, June 13, 2024

Supermarkets urged to ‘step up’ for customers this Christmas

New Zealand’s Grocery Commissioner is challenging supermarkets to “step up” and offer meaningful savings for Kiwi households this Christmas to help address cost-of-living pressures.

Given large increases in food prices over the last two years – which has had a substantial impact on household living costs – Pierre van Heerden says there is a real opportunity for the major players in the $25 billion supermarket sector to “bring some Christmas cheer” to Kiwi consumers by offering genuine and meaningful savings – particularly given those players would benefit from increased consumer spend at this time of year.

Mr van Heerden says he is encouraged by some of the pricing commitments he is seeing promoted in the sector for the Christmas and holiday period but wants to see those backed up with “genuinely good prices”, particularly at times when demand will be highest.  

Grocery Commissioner, Pierre van Heerden.

“We know this has been a particularly challenging year for Kiwi consumers with cost-of-living pressures, so I’m asking supermarkets to implement Everyday Low Pricing (EDLP) throughout the holiday season rather than the practice of frequently moving prices up and down – to help ensure Kiwi consumers are getting a genuinely good price when they shop for their groceries.”

Mr van Heerden is also urging supermarkets to ensure that when they do advertise specials or promotions these are accurate and not misleading.

“All retailers have obligations under the Fair Trading Act to ensure that consumers are not misled – all pricing and promotions therefore should be clear, accurate and unambiguous so that consumers can make a well-informed decision.”

Mr van Heerden says he wants supermarkets to become leaders in accurate pricing, given the positive difference this could deliver in terms of cost-of-living for all New Zealanders.

“As one of the largest sectors in New Zealand, supermarkets should lead the way with accurate pricing and value for money. This is a sector that touches every consumer in New Zealand so it’s important they get this right.”

In October this year, the Grocery Commissioner announced that one of his priorities was clear and accurate pricing, with supermarkets being the most complained about sector to the Commission and pricing issues being a common reason.

He said the Commission is exploring options to get to the bottom of the pricing issues but is also calling on supermarkets to get the right processes in place now.

Unit Pricing Regulations have also come into effect as of 31 August 2023, which require certain grocery retailers to display the unit price for goods clearly and legibly. It will help Kiwi consumers make informed decisions about the price of the products they buy when grocery shopping, especially where products are sold in different sized packaging and by different brands.

While physical stores must comply by 31 August 2024, Mr van Heerden is encouraging major grocery retailers to start taking steps to consider how this will be implemented, particularly in relation to promotions.

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