Stores are being accused of profiteering despite following wholesaler and manufacturer pricing advice as they switch to non-price-marked packs (PMPs).

To meet rising demand, many suppliers halted production of convenience-specific price-marked lines and started sending the channel multiple-focused versions.

However, several store owners, who asked to remain anonymous, told betterRetailing that they had been verbally abused and reported to local trading standards departments by customers for following new, higher recommended sales prices on the new versions being ranged by wholesalers.

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Invoice and wholesaler data shared by the store owners shows that in many instances, the new wholesale prices are higher than the brands’ own recommended sale prices for the now-delisted convenience channel-specific lines.

For instance, Kraft Cheesey Pasta previously carried a 95p price-mark, and had a wholesale cost of 78p from Nisa. The non-price-marked variant now available at Nisa has a wholesale price of £1.14. Its RRP jumped nearly 74% to £1.65.

A spokesperson for Mondelez told betterRetailing: “Cheesey Pasta has been in incredibly high demand and we are making every effort possible to keep packs in supply. There have been no changes in our recommended retail prices, however retailers and distributors are free to set their own pricing.”

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Elsewhere, nine-roll Andrex Classic Clean used to carry an advised £4.75 price with a £4.55 wholesale price, but this was delisted and replaced at Booker and Bestway with a new higher-priced wholesale non-price-marked line now showing a £5.25 RRP.

Asked about the impact of switches from PMP lines, Shahid Ali, of Nisa Local Mintlaw in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, said his customers had also complained about rises related to the trend. “A customer asked if we’d got the pricing wrong on Pepsi Max it had gone up so much, from £1.99 to £2.60. I couldn’t believe it – somehow Pepsi Max has become dearer than petrol per litre.”

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Asked about other brands that had seen rises in wholesale and recommended retail price as they were switched to non-price-marked varieties, store owners named Kellogg’s, Birds Eye, Mars Petcare, Sunpat Peanut Butter, Flash wipes, Dolmio sauce and Heinz Ketchup.

Sue Nithyanandan, of Costcutter Epsom in Surrey, said: “I understand the logic of removing PMPs, as they can’t run two production lines, but why such a higher price for the same item? Someone up the chain is making money, but our customers don’t know that.”

Andrex and Pepsi failed to respond to betterRetailing when asked about the changes.

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