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Beware the January Sales!

As the UK plunges headfirst into the discount season – from Boxing Day sales to January clearance – consumers are urged to be wary of deals and special offers that may not be quite all they seem. Wickes, Wren Kitchens and Magnet have today been called out within the kitchen industry as using sneaky promotional mechanics that have the potential to mislead customers.

Steve Collinge, Managing Director of Insight Retail Group warns customers to be especially vigilant at this time of year when it comes to retailer promotions on big-ticket items. His team run the leading price comparison websites across the home improvement sector. This sees them painstakingly monitor and record daily activity across the UK’s leading kitchen and bathroom retailers. “We track every move of the largest retailers in this sector, their promotional and finance deals, their service offerings and their pricing, which provides an unparalleled view of their practices”. Data from Insight Retail Group’s kitchen arm, Kitchen Compare, uncovered a number of questionable practices being used by some of the UK’s biggest kitchen retailers.

Kitchen Compare data reveals that some retailers are guilty of increasing prices only days before a promotion starts, meaning they can claim huge discounts of up to ‘50% off’ to lure customers into their stores. The best example of this is Wickes, who in August 2018 increased the prices of their premium Showroom Kitchen ranges by more than 80% only days before they activated a new 50% off multi-buy promotion.

"Huge discounts of up to 50% off seem too good to be true - and that’s because they are. If you look closely, these retailers are either putting their kitchens up in advance of key promotional periods or are consistently running the same promotion throughout the year.” commented Steve Collinge.

"A similarly misleading tactic is dressing up promotional activity and advertising material to make it appear new, when in fact the same promotion has been running for months. “We saw this used by Wren Kitchens in November 2018” added Collinge. “During October 2018 Wren Kitchens were running a ‘50% off kitchen multi-buy mechanic’ which continued during November as a ‘Black November’ deal and is already being regurgitated again for their January Sale.”

“This creates the impression that it is a new, limited time offer and therefore customers feel pressured to make a decision for fear that the offer may soon end.”

Retailers also use a range of tricks to drive store footfall where they can go for the hard sell in person. One tactic is the way that new kitchens are packaged up and priced online. For example, Wren Kitchens are advertising a Shaker Fossil Grey kitchen online priced at £1,852, however only in the tiny small print
does it become apparent that the price doesn't include essential components needed for a new kitchen, such as a worktop, cornice, sinks, taps, plinths and even door handles! The price also doesn’t include installation, which can be as much as 50% of the value of the kitchen. “In reality, while the £1,852 price would tempt many customers browsing to head in store, they’d be walking away with a quote well above £5,000” Steve concluded.

Wren, Magnet and Wickes are also guilty of adopting tactics to get around the Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling that items must not be on sale for more than six months of the year. These retailers are now luring customers in with multi-buys, such as offering a discount to customers buying five or more cabinets. Steve Collinge added, “This may seem like a good deal but in reality the majority of kitchens require more than four cabinets anyway, meaning this promotion applies to over 90% of all kitchen purchases and is therefore not a true sale.”

Steve Collinge, Managing Director at Insight Retail Group concluded: “By monitoring the activity of the UK’s leading kitchen retailers every single day, it’s clear to me that many big-name brands are using misleading promotional tactics in order to lure customers into choosing them for their kitchen purchase. Many use this time of year to look ahead and think about projects around the house and my advice to customers looking to invest in a kitchen is to look first at retailers such as B&Q, IKEA and John Lewis & Partners, who are transparent in their pricing strategies and offer great value all year round.”

Kitchen Compare recently announced that B&Q has been named ‘Lowest Priced National DIY Retailer of Kitchens 2018’ for a second year running, beating rivals including Homebase and Wickes. The accolade has been awarded to B&Q for consistently having the most-lowest priced, kitchens.

17th Dec 2018