Every year, Swedish pensioners’ organisation, PRO, performs a nationwide consumer price survey, receiving much attention.
It has often been argued that the stores lower their prices temporarily to appear cheaper than they are.
Now, Coop has been caught by a chief warning and instructing its stores to temporarily lower the prices.
PRO fills the annual bag of groceries and compare prices by visiting the majority of grocery stores in the country. PRO’s representatives note the prices in the store, which is then approved by the merchant.
Approximately 2,000 retirees do the purchasing on a given day, one bag of food with selected food items in thousands of stores.
This year, 2015, the survey took place on 13 October.
The winner is usually not slow to take advantage of this in their marketing. However, in recent years some traders have refused to participate, arguing that competitors manipulate their prices when they have knowledge that the investigation is underway.
Now evidence come to this position. Tabloid Expressen published on Wednesday an email from a manager of the Coop Mitt prompting their stores temporarily lowering prices on selected goods.
“We get signals that the PRO has been spotted out,” writes Johan Nilsson, operations manager Coop Mitt, in an email before he describes how the temporary price cut should happen. He writes that he has asked the sales and marketing department to review the prices on for example “mince, chops and herrgård-cheese”.
“It would be unfortunate if we were ‘overruled’ ‘
On the e-mail recipient list are several top executives, including Coop Mitt’s CEO.
Johan Nilsson also writes in the same e-mail:
“Why are we doing this? We / I think it would be very unfortunate if we were” run over “in this measurement, then we run hard on communication about lower prices.”
The email was sent the day before PRO’s survey.
”They want to cheat their own customers. I am disappointed,” says Märtha Dahlberg, Head of PRO’s price study.
She has never clearly seen as clear evidence of cheating the investigation.
Coop avoided initially to comment on the matter – or did a general condemnation. On Thursday Coop Sweden sent out a comment – blaming the local consumer association.
“We look very seriously at what happened. There is no doubt that the local consumer association Coop Mitt acted improperly. We reject the act and will follow up the question. We note that the association has apologized and we expect them to take all necessary measures to regain the confidence of members and clients, and ensure that the PRO gets a proper basis. ”
The statement also points out that Coop’s local consumer associations decide on their own rates.
The letter is signed by Coop Sverige AB management team through the Communications Director Olle Axelsson.