CMA kicks off supermarket membership pricing review

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Tuesday said that it had started a review of loyalty pricing schemes offered by supermarkets.

The statement comes after the CMA in November announced that it would review loyalty scheme pricing by supermarkets to consider whether it is fair that cheaper prices are only available to card holders.

Loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar, routinely offer shoppers with discounted prices on everyday items. Critics have argued that many of the discounts are artificial, and that the lower prices marketed as exclusive to members are equivalent to the products’ prices at rival supermarkets, with the schemes mostly being used to track consumer spending habits.

According to the CMA, almost 21 million UK households have a Tesco Clubcard and around 80 per cent of its sales involve them. Sainsbury’s meanwhile offers exclusive Nectar Prices on over 6,000 products.

At the time of the investigation’s launch in November, CMA chief exec Sarah Cardell said that the prevalence of membership “raises a number of questions about the impact of loyalty scheme pricing on consumers."

The watchdog on Tuesday said that it had begun talks with supermarkets and that it will publish an update in July. The review is scheduled to be concluded by the end of 2024, it said.

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