ABC Bargain Centre, ABC Express and Valu$ outlets to cease 'closing down sale', 'fire sale' ads: Competition watchdog

ABC Bargain Centre, ABC Express and Valu$ outlets to cease 'closing down sale', 'fire sale' ads: Competition watchdog

Valu$ at City Square Mall
The exterior of a Valu$ outlet at City Square Mall. (Photo: Facebook/Valu$ Shop At City Square Mall B2) 

SINGAPORE: Three retail outlets have voluntarily agreed to stop using misleading language in their advertisements, said the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on Friday (Oct 16). 

The operators of ABC Bargain Centre, ABC Express and Valu$ said they would not use phrases such as "closing down sale" and "fire sale" in their advertisements. 

READ: Competition watchdog publishes price transparency guidelines; to come into effect in November

"Advertisements bearing such language convey the impression that the reason for the discounted price is due to impending closure of the business and that the discounted price would only be available for a limited period of time," said CCCS. 

In 2019, the three retail operators approached the competition watchdog to discuss certain advertisements in their outlets. 

Before the meeting, the phrases - “closing down sale” and “fire sale” - were displayed continuously at their outlets without any end date, said CCCS. 

"CCCS is of the view that such advertisements can mislead consumers into believing that there is a price benefit, and the benefit would only be available for a limited period," it said. 

Advertisements that mislead consumers constitute an unfair practice in breach of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA). 

All three retailers have agreed to remove any or all mentions of the word "fire sale" at their outlets. 

They have also agreed to not advertise any products as discounted for only a limited period of time unless the retail outlet is genuinely ceasing operations, said CCCS. 

The retailers also cannot advertise products as discounted when there is no genuine price benefit or advantage. 

CCCS CLOSELY MONITORING OTHER BUSINESSES WITH SIMILAR PRACTICES

Certain retail outlets trading as ABC Bargain Centre and Valu$ are operated by franchisees, said CCCS. 

"The parties have undertaken to use all reasonable efforts to notify and
ensure that all franchised retail outlets adhere to the abovementioned obligations," it added. 

READ: Price comparison app for consumers to be rolled out across Singapore

The retailers have also undertaken to cooperate with the competition watchdog on an ongoing basis to ensure that the agreed obligations are met and to ensure continued compliance with the CPFTA. 

CCCS added that in accepting the retailers' voluntary undertakings, it has noted their cooperation to ensure that its advertising practices comply with the CPFTA.

"However, CCCS reserves the right to investigate any breach of the undertakings or any other unfair practices by the parties," said the watchdog. 

CCCS added that it was closely monitoring other businesses that engage in similar unfair practices. 

Source: CNA/ad(hs)

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