Asda opts out of signing up to new retail code

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ASDA has defended its decision to opt out of a new supermarket code to ensure customers get fair prices.

The Leeds-based supermarket chain said it is worried the new Office of Fair Trading guidelines could actually encourage higher prices.

Yesterday the OFT announced a new agreement to ban supermarkets from selling goods at an inflated price for a few days so they can advertise the goods as being half price for the next month.

Under the OFT guidelines the half price promise can only be advertised for as long as the original price appeared for.

The supermarkets have also agreed to stop artificially inflating prices to make a later “discount” look more attractive.

Supermarkets have been criticised for confusing customers and making them think they are getting a better deal than they actually are.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, The Co-operative, Aldi and Lidl have all signed up to the new deal.

Asda defended its decision, saying it is committed to giving customers clear and accurate pricing information that fully complies with the law.

“As an everyday low price retailer, we will always focus on offering our customers the lowest prices week in, week out,” said a spokeswoman.

Asda’s model eschews ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ promotions and other special offers as it believes they can mislead customers.

Analysis by The Grocer magazine backs up its claim to be the cheapest of the main supermar- kets.

Asda said the new guidelines say you can only run a promotion for as long as you have established the price for it.

“Whilst this is meant to discourage high/low pricing promotions, our concern is that it could actually encourage it,” said the spokeswoman. “We’re not sure that best helps customers in these challenging times so we are taking the time to consider its proposals in detail.”

Bradford-based Morrisons welcomed the OFT ruling and said: “We are happy to sign up to the Office of Fair Trading’s principles because they reflect good promotional practice and we are working towards convergence.”

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