Cheaper electrical goods on way

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The Independent Online
CHEAPER electrical goods could be on the way after the Government yesterday moved to ban recommended retail prices on items such as televisions, hi-fis, video recorders and washing machines.

The new regime, due to take effect from 1 September, will make it illegal for suppliers to set recommended prices for retailers. It also bans suppliers from discriminating either by price or by terms and conditions against retailers which sell at a discount.

The measures follow recommendations from Britain's competition watchdog, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, published in July last year.

"I am determined that price competition in these practices which restrict competition should be stopped," Margaret Beckett, the President of the Board of Trade, said in a statement.

The move was welcomed by the Consumers' Association which said it was "staggering" that electrical products currently cost exactly the same whether they are bought in the Cornwall or Cumbria. It said smaller, independent shops sometimes offered electrical goods at lower prices than the big chains. "A Panasonic TV which costs pounds 529.99 across the country could be bought from a small shop in Windsor for pounds 479.99," the association said.

However, Dixons said consumers would notice little difference. "Electricals retailing is already highly competitive and consumers have benefited from that," a spokesman said. Dixons has always maintained that it does not use the recommended retail prices.