UK supermarkets may bring in 'surge pricing'

Chains are planning to replace traditional price tags with electronic versions

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Will surge-pricing work in supermarkets?

Supermarkets may introduce Uber-style "surge pricing" in a move that could throw household budgets into chaos.

Retail experts predict that fixed prices in the shops will be virtually non-existent within five years, as 'e-prices'which change with demand become the norm.

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Chains including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons are planning to replace traditional paper price tags on shelves with electronic versions which can be changed at the push of a button.

Experts say this may eventually lead on to surge-pricing in UK shops, a system which is already common in the US and parts of Europe.

Credits: Christopher Furlong/Getty

Chains including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons are planning to replace traditional paper price tags on shelves with electronic versions which can be changed at the push of a button

Hard-up British families may find themselves paying significantly more or less for items depending on the daily demand for seasonal goods like ice creams or chilled drinks in summer.

Electronic price changes were tested in some Marks & Spencer food stores last year.

The firm used the labels to offer special deals before 11am to encourage workers to buy their food before the lunchtime rush.

But shops will also be able to remove offers on sought-after goods in a bid to maximise profits.

Credits: Getty

Families could end up paying significantly more or less than they do now

Taxi firm Uber has been criticised for inflating prices during busy periods.

A similar system could also soon be seen at petrol pumps.

Andrew Dark, from electronic pricing company Displaydata, said: "Paper tags often show the wrong prices as they have to be manually replaced by staff when prices move, but electronic labels can be updated in just 20 seconds."

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "We always look at ways that technology can help us improve the shopping experience for our customers."

Shopping: when spending more isn't always better

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