An investigation by The Guardian found that the majority of price cuts introduced by the supermarket in the run up to Christmas were worth just 1p, while at the same time the stores increased prices on other products by much more.
John Bridgeman, former director general of the Office of Fair Trading, says that the analysis of supermarkets pricing policy shows a “cynical manipulation of the language of value”.
Bridgeman has criticised Asda and Tesco’s use of price cuts in marketing as misleading to consumers and the 1p price cuts promoted by the supermarkets in festive advertising damaged the credibility of their marketing slogans.
“They are not in reality cutting prices but flexing prices, making them go up and down and destabilising the price structure,” Bridgeman told The Guardian. “All they are doing is introducing so much volatility no one can tell whether prices are going up or down. It can only be to consumers’ detriment and it does their image no good,” he adds.
The report sates that two thirds of Asda’s 800 price cuts in the week before Christmas were worth just 1p while 53% of the 850 price rises in the same period were more that 10p.
In the same period, Tesco cut 930 prices, with 70% down by just 1% compared to 1,000 price increases, of which 70% were more than 10p.
In a statement, Tesco says it does not recognise the data The Guardian is using, adding “we do not manipulate prices in this cynical way.”