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ASA exposes Wickes for misleading kitchen shoppers

Wickes 50% off kitchen sale

Following a complaint made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in May 2017, they ruled yesterday that a Wickes '50% off kitchen sale advert' was misleading to the public and could not be repeated.

Read the full ASA report here

The Issue

An unknown complainant approached the ASA, stating they believed the 50% off kitchens savings advertised online on 9th May 2017 was misleading and could not be substantiated.

Response by Wickes

Wickes Building Supplies Ltd (Wickes) stated that the dates of the sale and the period over which the higher prices were available were clearly set out on the same web page on which the ad appeared. They believed that a longer sale period was reasonable based on the length of the customer journey when making such a significant purchase as a kitchen, because it allowed an informed, unhurried decision to be made. They understood that some other retailers in the industry adopted similarly longer sale periods in relation to kitchens. Wickes provided a pricing history for the range of 28 kitchens that were included in the sale from August 2016 to May 2017. They believed that the ad had not breached the Code.

Assessment

The ASA considered that consumers were likely to understand “50% off kitchen units” to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price for the units at the time the ad appeared.

The promotional period represented in the ad ran from 29 March 2017 to 29 May 2017, a total of 61 days. Immediately prior to this, there was a period of 28 days in which there was no promotion on the products in question. The ASA considered that the sales period was materially longer than the non-promotional period that preceded it. Furthermore, they noted that between 30 August 2016 and 9 May 2017 (when the ad was seen), there were 79 days when the kitchen units were at “full price”, and 138 days with a “50% off” promotion. They considered that the sales history provided indicated that the price comparison had been made for a materially longer period than the higher prices were offered. They therefore considered that the higher prices were not the usual selling prices for the units at the time the ad appeared. They concluded that the associated savings claim had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.17 (Prices).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. The ASA told Wickes Building Supplies Ltd to ensure their future savings claims represented genuine savings against the usual selling prices of their products.

Analysis & Comment

As well as Insight DIY, we own and run the consumer facing price comparison websites Kitchen-Compare.com and BathroomCompare.com. Launched in 2012, every day we check and record the price of every component across three model kitchens and 33 different styles. In addition, we record the promotional activity and assess the quality of the kitchens and bathrooms and the retailers service offerings.

Find out more about our Compare websites here.

Our objective is to help consumers find their perfect kitchen or bathroom at the right price. In the UK, the kitchen retailers fall neatly into two distinct groups - those who offer genuine 'every day low prices' including IKEA, B&Q, Bunnings/Homebase and many independent retailers. Then there are those who use high/low promotional tactics to drive footfall to their stores and to close the sale. The latter group includes Magnet, Wren Kitchens and Wickes, who tend to try and do a bit of both.

This ruling by the ASA once again highlights the fact that some retailers are using promotional tactics which are misleading to consumers, using a form of smoke and mirrors to persuade customers to walk into their stores and buy kitchens at prices that are not discounted. We believe the UK consumer is slowly changing and is becoming more suspicious of high discounts in all areas of retail. In some cases this is leading to retailers having to offer even higher discounts to maintain their kitchen sales.

Wren Kitchens currently offers the highest discounts to customers and they are currently advertising a 60% off kitchen sale (see website link below). On the surface, this looks like a great deal until you dig deeper and look at their promotional activity for the whole of 2017 to date.

  • 16th Jan 2017 - 1st March 2017 - Half Price Kitchens Plus 25% Off
  • 2nd March 2017 - 20th March 2017 - Half Price Kitchens Plus VAT free
  • 21st March 2017 - 3rd May 2017 - Half Price Kitchens Plus 25% Off
  • 4th May 2017 - 31st May 2017 - Half Price Kitchen Plus VAT free
  • 1st June 2017 - 26th June 2017 - Half Price Kitchens Plus 20% Off
  • 27th June - 12th September 2017 - Half Price Kitchens Plus 25% Off
  • 13th September to date - 60% Off Kitchens

Wren Kitchens 60% off kitchen sale

Source: Steve Collinge, the Insight DIY Team & ASA website.

If you would like more information on our Compare websites contact our Managing Director Steve Collinge on Steve@irg.co.uk.

For all the very latest news and intelligence on the largest Home Improvement and Garden retailers, sign up our weekly newsletter here. 

 

05 October 2017

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