B&Q raise prices in December, to offer big sale discounts now
Following Bitterwallet's recent investigations into the real value of sale prices, in particular those at Halfords and Argos, the Independent has also been busy exposing how retailers plan their sales so they can appear to offer big discounts in January.
In this instance, the newspaper perused the sale prices offered by B&Q, which is currently offering many of its products at up to half price. But according to the Independent, B&Q significantly increased the prices of goods in December ahead of its current sale.
The DIY chain held a sale throughout October, then increased the prices on products and installations services by up to 84 per cent, meaning stores could subsequently drop prices again and legitimately advertise big discounts in the post-Christmas sale. As an example, a curved shower bath panel is now on sale at B&Q for £84.49. In late October, the item cost £100.56, but its price was raised to £169 in December.
Bryan Roberts at Planet Retail warned consumers to watch for similar practises in the spring, stating it was common practice to hike the prices of burgers or sparkling wine in February or March, so to be seen to be offering huge discounts in the summer, in time for outdoor entertaining.
In their defence, B&Q's commercial director told the paper: "Our current half price on all kitchen units offer runs from 24 December 2008 to 5 February 2009. Prior to this promotion, our bathrooms were at their standard price to reflect their true value."
As before, retailers who do this aren't breaking consumer law; so long as a product has been sold at the higher price for 28 consecutive days within the last six months, this sort of advertising is perfectly legal, if not a little more than confusing for the customer.