Show us your prices or drop the hot air

Supermarkets claims unverifiable until published online

The major supermarkets should put their money where their mouth is by coming clean on recent claims about pricing and put their so-called bargains clearly and promptly online, according to CHOICE.

The watchdog says Coles and Woolworths mish-mash of hype this week about national pricing, state-based pricing and slashing shelf prices has left many consumers scratching their heads.

CHOICE says few other businesses have the market power to get away with such overarching statements regarding their pricing policies without permitting reasonable scrutiny of their claims. But neither chain has released sufficient background information to verify their statistics.

“Short of taking the major supermarkets’ word for it or walking around with a very large notebook to try and check there’s no way of knowing which supermarket is truly cheaper without publication of prices on the web,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn. “If it’s good enough for thousands of schools to have detailed information online in the name of transparency it should be good enough for the supermarket giants to do likewise to drive real competition.”

Seven months ago the federal government canned the GroceryChoice website days before it was due to go live saying it was not able to guarantee the accuracy of price information. The supermarkets claimed at the time it was impossible to provide price data because prices varied so much and so often between individual stores even within the same chain.

This week Coles revealed they will have 8,000 nationally priced items from Feb 1. Woolworths then claimed 12,000 of their goods were already priced consistently across the states and that they had lowered 3,500 prices over the last few months.

“The two giants need to demonstrate they are truly transparent by providing instore prices online as soon as possible or drop all the hot air about the cuts being a ‘revolution’ in retailing until the information is readily available to consumers,” said Zinn.

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