Consumers call for political parties to help ease the squeeze on living standards


The Queensland Consumers Association (QCA) and other consumer groups1 want all parties contesting the forthcoming federal election to do much more to help consumers experiencing cost of living pressures.

QCA spokesperson, Ian Jarratt, says being able to easily and quickly get better value at the supermarket would help consumers to “ease the squeeze” on living standards.

Therefore, QCA is calling on all parties to support an early review of the legislation requiring large supermarkets to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of products on shelf labels and other price signs.

Unit prices help shoppers to easily compare the value of the thousands of items sold in supermarkets and this can result in big savings because unit prices vary greatly between products and supermarkets.

The compulsory provision of unit pricing by supermarkets started in 2009 following a national campaign lead by the Queensland Consumers Association.

The planned five year review of the unit pricing legislation is almost two years overdue.

This is delaying many reforms that would greatly benefit shoppers and the economy.

QCA says the review should be undertaken soon after the election and consider:

  • How to make existing unit pricing more effective.
  • How to get more retailers to provide unit pricing.

The review should also be independent and transparent

To be effective, unit pricing needs to be very easy for consumers to notice, read, understand and use.

However, much supermarket unit pricing is not as effective as it could, or should be, because of:

  • inadequate prominence and legibility
  • non provision
  • use of inconsistent and inappropriate units of measure
  • insufficient monitoring and enforcement of provision.

In a national survey nearly 70% of shoppers at the 2 major supermarkets said unit pricing would be more helpful if the unit prices were more legible or prominent.

QCA estimates that inadequate provision of grocery unit pricing, and insufficient consumer education, reduces the benefits of grocery unit pricing to consumers by several hundred million dollars each year.

Consumers and the economy would also benefit greatly if unit pricing was provided by other types of retailers.

QCA’s request for an early review of the unit pricing legislation is also supported by the following consumer and community organisations:

  • Choice (Australian Consumers Association)
  • Consumers Federation of Australia
  • Consumer Action Law Centre
  • Financial Counselling Australia

[1] Choice (Australian Consumers Association), Consumers Federation of Australia, Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Counselling Australia

This article is republished from the Queensland Consumers Association’s press release, published on the 8th of June 2016.