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Discount pricing deals just don’t add up for shoppers

Pricing policies just don’t add up for many shoppers because many people’s basic maths skills are so poor, claims a new government campaign.

Shoppers struggle to work put the best value deals because they find the discount offers are too difficult to work out in their head, according to the Learning and Skills Council's Get On campaign. A survey by the campaign suggested that many would buy more discounted goods if they could work out if they were really a bargain. To try and rectify the problem, the government is offering adults free basic maths courses at colleges. 

The survey should also prompt marketing experts to reconsider the way they present pricing to customers.

For example, the survey asked more than 1,000 adults which was the best deal - a chocolate bar that was priced at £1.99 for one, but £3.45 for two. 

Campaign organisers said 87% of those asked could not say how big the saving on two bars would be – it works out as £3.98 - £3.45 = 53p 

Around 57% of those asked also could not work out how much a packet of sausages would cost if it had a third off. 

The campaign will be talking to shoppers in supermarkets this week to promote the courses. 

"This is a great chance for people to think about how improving their skills could help their everyday life - from doing the weekly shop and helping children with their homework, to improving their chances in the workplace," said Consumer Affairs Minister Kevin Brennan. 

Businesses should consider the way they promote discounts and special offers with more explicit price labelling to make sure customers who might buy a product fail to make them purchase because they don’t understand if a store is offering a bargain price.

Stores are full of 2-for-1 and 3-for 2 deals that could make more money for businesses if shoppers were actually told the price they had to pay.


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