Coles shoppers claim ‘big change’ at supermarket

Shoppers have reported what appears to be an increased volume of marked down prices in Coles ahead of a parliamentary inquiry into alleged supermarket price gouging.

A couple filmed as they walked through an undisclosed Coles store in late December, revealing yellow markdown tickets in front of almost every single product in some aisles.

Footage showed row after row of products that had been marked down.

A woman’s voice was heard saying “thank you inquiry”.

Text across the video claimed that “every aisle looked like this”.

A price gouging inquiry was announced earlier in December and is set to unfold in the coming weeks and months.

“This is actually insane. As if this is normal. This is not normal. What the heck,” the woman said while giggling.

“It’s the whole aisle of all the beauty stuff. The whole aisle.”
The man described the scenes “crazy” before pointing out that “even coffee’s cheap”.

His accomplice said it was “so funny watching Coles publicly sh**ting their pants”.

“I wonder if they’re thinking that all of these sales will help them get out of looking so bad,” the woman commented.

Coles and Woolworths will send chief executives to face questioning early this year as part of the parliamentary inquiry into whether the supermarkets have been overcharging consumers.

The supermarkets attracted widespread criticism in recent months as they recorded major profits while Australians struggled with soaring inflation, rent increases and interest rate rises.

Select senators were set to probe Coles and Woolworths executives on their pricing strategies, the increase in price on essential items and the impact of their “duopoly” on food prices.

The inquiry will also look at whether the supermarkets are engaging in opportunistic pricing and mark-ups.

Coles has confirmed it will send chief executive Leah Weckert to front the inquiry, saying that the supermarket has been “working hard to keep prices affordable”.

“We have worked collaboratively with previous inquiries and are ready to work with the Committee and engage in an informed discussion on the factors that influence supermarket pricing,” Ms Weckert said in a statement.

“We continue to invest in providing great value to our customers, supporting our network of more than 8000 suppliers and providing employment to more than 120,000 Australians right across the country.”

Woolworths will also send its chief executive Brad Banducci, who says the supermarket is “very aware” of the cost of living pressures facing many Australians.

“We welcome the opportunity to explain to the senate how we are working to balance the needs of our customers, our team and our suppliers in the context of economy-wide inflationary pressure,” he said.

“As we have done at several inquiries this year, we will openly and constructively assist the parliament with its work on this important topic.

“We are proud to directly employ 180,000 team members in Australia and support the livelihoods of 18,000 suppliers in the communities we serve.”

Coles has claimed its price inflation was just 3.1 per cent for the July to September quarter, considerably lower than Australia’s inflation rate of 7.2 per cent in the same time period according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The inquiry will likely go ahead in early 2024 after the Greens gained Labor’s support for the probe earlier this week.

Greens economic justice spokesman Senator Nick McKim said it was “time to smash the duopoly”.

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits by price gouging in a cost of living crisis,” Mr McKim said.

“For too long the big supermarkets have had too much market power. This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard.”

A Woolworths spokesman said the supermarket is “committed to offering our customers value while working with our suppliers to manage economy-wide inflationary pressures”.

“We know Australians are feeling the strain of cost of living and we are working to deliver relief in their weekly grocery shop,” he said.

“As we start to see the rate of inflation ease, we will continue to focus on delivering savings to our customers.”

news.com.au has contacted Coles for comment.

— With NCA NewsWire

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