Letter: Metric muddle at the supermarket

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The Independent Online
Sir: You report on a survey indicating confusion among shoppers ("All lost in the supermarket", 1 November). Difficulty in comparing prices was a major complaint, and "the switch to metric measurements has compounded the problem".

Metrication should have made price comparisons simpler, by rationalising product ranges and providing simple multiples of 100, 250 etc. Instead, a combination of political cowardice and inefficiency by the DTI and the lack of co-ordinated action by the retail industry has led to a confusion of package sizes, where every supermarket chain has a different permutation of litre and pint milk sizes, and consumers are expected to understand the relative pricing of 227g and 250g packs. We also have the ludicrous situation of carpet retailers pricing per 0.84 square metres, as a result of incompetent legislation.

A quarter-century after I was taught exclusively metric at school it is time that we made the switch to metric in a quick and efficient manner (as we did with decimal currency - what happened to the disaster predicted at that time?) for the benefit of both the consumer and the retail industry.

We should also be following the lead of the US Government and repeal legislation which forbids metric road signs. Children are being educated in metric, but are not being allowed to use it outside the classroom, leading to a relearning process and wasted funds.