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Last updated: 06.07.17

How to ensure you are trading fairly in retail

When trading as a retailer it’s important that you know your rights so that you can operate in a manner that is both safe and fair.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in May 2017 the quantity of goods and services bought in the retail industry was estimated to have grown by 0.9 per cent compared with the year previous. In addition to this, average store prices increased by 2.8 per cent on the year, which is the largest growth since March 2012.

When we compare it to other sectors, the size and potential of retail is huge. In the UK, it is the largest private sector employer with 2.9 million employees and The Retail Appointment claims that by the end of 2017, the country will have 3.3 million retail employees.

With such large numbers of both employees and businesses operating in retail, competition is fierce. This means that when entering the market, smaller retailers must ensure that they are trading as fairly as possible while also being fully aware of their rights.

How can I ensure that I am trading fairly?

Retailers can ensure that they are trading fairly by reading the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which are intended to make sure customers are being treated fairly. They apply to all goods and services offered to consumers by a business.

The Act prohibits 31 specific practices and other misleading and aggressive practices including:

  • Delivering false information about the goods or services
  • Giving information in a way that is likely to mislead the customer
  • Providing information that is ambiguous
  • Failing to provide information the customer needs to make their choice

More information regarding this can be found on the Office of Fair Trading website.

What are my customer’s rights?

When a customer purchases goods from a retailer, the Sale of Goods Act protects them and gives them certain legal rights. It is important for retailers to understand and know this Act so they can stay on the right side of the law while keeping customers happy.

According to the Act, goods must:

  • Match their description and not be misleading in any way
  • Be of satisfactory quality
  • Be safe to use
  • Be fit for purpose and used for what it was intended to

  • However, if you sell a product that does not meet these conditions it is deemed faulty, and the customer then has a right to a refund, repair or replacement. This will depend on the individual circumstances. So, for example, a person cannot claim a product is faulty if the fault is due to wear and tear. Nevertheless, generally customers are entitled to a refund when they have not had a reasonable opportunity to examine the product after purchase.

    How important is pricing?

    When it comes to pricing a product, all retailers must give a clear indication of the price for all the goods they are selling and customers should not have to ask for the price by law. This is according to the Price Marking Order 2004.

    Stockists can provide the price by attaching labels to each item, taking care to make sure that a price isn’t indicated that is less than what it actually costs. If this happens, it would be classed as a ‘misleading price indication’ and although retailers can refuse to sell an item that has the wrong price on it; you could still be breaching the law.

    Virtual College have joined forces with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) to create a range of online courses for the retail sector, including consumer rights training. Learn more today.

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