Boosting consumer power and cutting supermarket prices

Labour Policy Portal is a network of Labour MPs, Peers, Party members and supporters which exists to share policy ideas and stimulate fresh thinking and debate within the Labour Party.  This initiative was established by four Labour MPs – Nick Raynsford, Malcolm Wicks, Hugh Bayley and Southampton’s John Denham – all former Ministers who were also in Parliament last time Labour was in opposition.

John’s proposals aim to let consumers make accurate and online price comparisons, and to monitor price reductions, special promotions and BOGOF deals.  Online data would enable the creation of price comparison apps that could:

  • Compare prices across different supermarket chains
  • Compare prices in different branches of the same chains
  • Analyse and enable informed choices about price promotions
  • Enable online consumer reviews of product quality

In theory, the high street is highly competitive. But, in practice, supermarkets hold many of the cards while most consumers are left shopping around very much like they did 20 years ago.

It is almost impossible for consumers to know whether the price promotions they see represent real change and real value for money.

Supermarkets run sophisticated pricing policies, informed by detailed analysis of customer behaviour. This is a modest proposal that would help consumers exercise real, informed, choice. It would shift the balance of power in the consumers’ favour and produce a more efficient market.

While existing price comparison websites are hampered by limited data and limited supermarket participation, international experience shows that, as soon as public or private data is made freely available, innovative app designers swiftly create new apps to meet the needs of consumers.

Outlining this proposal on the Labour Policy Portal, John has drawn attention to The Grocer’s Price Index analysis, which showed that during Tesco’s recent Price Drop campaign, three prices went up for every two that were lowered.  You can read John’s proposal in more detail by clicking here.

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