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Supermarket pricing report findings both surprising and unsurprising - Prof Mike Waterson

Mike Waterson is a Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick and an expert on competition policy. He’s available for interviews about the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) report which has been published today.

He said: "The CMA report on pricing practices in the grocery market is at the same time surprising and unsurprising. It is surprising because, despite the raft of legislation, grocery codes and pricing codes generally, supermarkets still engage in misleading pricing behaviour to some extent. It is unsurprising because, in their efforts to attract shoppers to their particular store, supermarkets have engaged in a range of more or less misleading, or at least confusing, practices in the past. A significant previous episode over the 2008/09 period, documented in research work by Chakraborty et al (Warwick Economics Research paper 975), examined the extraordinary extent to which many prices dropped by a penny, so obscuring the extent to which other prices rose by a greater amount, leading to overall basket prices rising.

"What is the CMA doing about this? It plans a range of measures, none of them draconian, to improve the extent to which supermarkets comply with the various codes. Actual breaches of consumer law are rare, but have on some occasions led to prosecution, and the report cites two examples, including one in Birmingham. But there is a general problem here- writing specific things into a code is likely to lead to other practices that do not break the code. As in other areas, it is largely up to shoppers to consider, not whether a supposed reduction in price is large, but whether the current price appears good value to them."

Notes to Editors:

Professor Waterson is available for interviews. Contact Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:


Lee Page

Communications Manager, University of Warwick

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221