Labour calls on CCPC to investigate claims of ‘price gouging’ at Irish supermarkets
"Far too many corporations like supermarkets are involved in reaping hyper-normal profits at a time that so many families are struggling,” Labour Deputy Ged Nash has claimed
21 April 2023
The Labour Party has requested that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) should investigate claims of ‘price gouging’ at Irish supermarket chains as production costs continue to fall.
Labour Enterprise spokesperson Ged Nash has called on government to use its powers under the 2007 Consumer Protection Act to intervene and examine the setting of price caps on every day essentials.
“In an economy where inflation has totally outstripped wage growth, everyone is feeling it in their pockets,” Deputy Nash said. “Prices are rising faster than incomes, so people will have less to spend on everyday essentials. So too are profits.
“In the meantime, far too many corporations like supermarkets are involved in reaping hyper-normal profits at a time that so many families are struggling,” he continued.
“It’s time for the CCPC to investigate potential price gouging in the market to ensure that the wages of hard-pressed workers go further and for the authorities to examine how profit-taking is contributing to the inflation problem.”
Irish Times consumer affairs correspondent Conor Pope has said that while at present, there is no “definitive proof” of price gouging in supermarkets, there are nevertheless many questions surrounding large chains.
“An awful lot of the excuses and an awful lot of the reasons they gave 12 months ago for pushing prices higher and higher and higher are now gone,” Pope said during an interview with Newstalk.
“The question that we have to ask is not whether or not they’re making excess profits – the question is why the prices aren’t coming down today to reflect the changing circumstances in 2023 compared to 2022.”
Conor Pope added that supermarkets had not followed other services in dropping prices as the cost-of-living crisis recedes.
He pointed out that currently the average price for a litre of petrol is €1.59, and an average of €1.51 for a litre of diesel. This is down from the height of the crisis when a litre of fuel cost more than €2.
In his view, supermarkets can no longer blame increased prices on increased transport costs – and energy cost are also no justification. While conceding that he is not privy to how much supermarkets pay for their energy, he highlighted that the cost of energy in the wholesale markets is today around half what it was at the height of the crisis.
He also added that it is likely large retailers like Tesco or Dunnes “have pretty robust deals in place with their energy suppliers”.
“So, the question then is when are we going to see the benefits of the falling input costs?”
The journalist has predicted that one supermarket chain will likely move its prices down and other chains will follow.
“That’s not a cartel – that’s just how retailing works,” Pope said. “They all follow each other very closely.”