Coles commits to national pricing

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 27th January 2010

Supermarket chain Coles is set to introduce uniform prices on over 8,000 grocery products across the country, in a move similar to that of Aldi in 2008.

The national pricing scheme will apply to approximately 97 per cent of the products sold at Coles in response to customer complaints about prices varying on the same grocery item from suburb-to-suburb or town-to-town in their state.

“From 1 February, Coles will apply its lowest prices to more than 8,000 grocery products including meat, seafood, dairy, deli and bakery products across the country and the
remaining grocery products will be matched to our lowest prices in each state,” Coles Managing Director, Ian McLeod, explained. “Coles customers will also get the lowest possible prices on fruit and vegetables, as supermarket managers will have the ability to match the best prices for similar quality fruit and vegetables in their local market.”

Mr McLeod said the approach would provide greater transparency in pricing and be adapted nationwide except in a few remote areas where transport costs are significantly higher.

University of NSW competition law expert Frank Zumbo welcomed the move, but suggested further transparency was needed.

“Coles’ announcement … is a welcome first step for consumers, but more transparency is needed from Coles on the proposed pricing changes,” Professor Zumbo said. “While a genuine single “lowest pricing” policy is always to be welcomed, it’s important that Coles is fully transparent on the list of grocery items to be covered by the new pricing policy. With these types of announcements the devil is always in the detail and the onus is on Coles to tell consumers which products will be affected and by how much retail prices will change on the affected items.

“With Coles consistently rating lower than other supermarket players in customer satisfaction surveys regularly undertaken by Roy Morgan, it’s clear that Coles is playing catch up in the supermarket sector.”