Do you check out the unit price of items?

Do you know that the “unit pricing” regulations are? Do you check out the unit prices to see if you’re getting good value for money?

A shop that provides price labels on their shelving and has bar code scanning at checkouts (most shops these days) are obliged to provide a unit price for an item as well as the actual selling price.

So, if you’re buying an item that is sold by measure, volume or weight, the label must tell you how much that item is per litre, or per kilo etc.

Below are two shelf labels from my local store from a couple of weeks ago. As you can see, they’re both for the same product – Squeez Orange Juice, but for 2 different volume containers.

Interesting, isn’t it! On the same shelf, two different unit prices for the same product.

And to even complicate things even more for the poor consumer, the version of the juice that was market as €1.64 per litre was actually also flagged in a “2 for €2.50” deal. What’s that? 2 litres for €2.50, or a unit price of €1.25 per litre (which isn’t actually shown anywhere).

Takes a bit of effort and mathematics to work out the best value there!

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3 Responses to Do you check out the unit price of items?

  1. Dermot December 23, 2008 at 12:43 #

    You said: “Takes a bit of effort and mathematics to work out the best value there!”

    I’m one of these people who reads everything, but I don’t think it’s too difficult to work out the best value here at all.

    The top labelled item is Sqeez OJ at €1.59 for 500ml, which would be the equivalent of €3.18 for a full litre.

    The second label is for Sqeez OJ at €1.64 for 1 litre. No contest which is the best value, and doesn’t take any working out at all, because the label tells us.

    OK, so you have to read the small print on the label, but it’s there, no other effort involved at all.

    Or, am I missing something?

  2. Donal December 23, 2008 at 13:17 #

    I try to read the labels but sometimes they’re all over the place. Labels for similar products should be side by side in my opinion. More often than not it’s near impossible to go to this level of detail for every item on your shopping list.

  3. valueireland January 3, 2009 at 16:14 #

    Thank you both for your comments. I think that Donals final sentence confirms my original point questioned by Dermot – “More often than not it’s near impossible to go to this level of detail for every item on your shopping list”.

    Definitely that’s the case – and probably designed by our supermarkets to be exactly that complicated.

    But we probably need to be somewhat vigilant – it’s in our own interests to do so.

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