The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has drafted a set of guidelines for retailers.

The NCA is seeking to provide guidance to retailers in relation to advertising, the use of gift vouchers and the display of sale prices in an attempt to help them to comply with the Consumer Protection Act 2007 (the Act).

It is intended that the Act will strengthen existing consumer protection legislation and it also established the NCA on a statutory (or legal) basis.

The NCA's recommendations include the following: 

  • Stores should be accommodating when dealing with gift vouchers. No time limit should be set for redeeming and no restrictions should be set on using vouchers during promotions.
  • Retailers should not use the term "closing down sale" unless the store is actually closing.
  • There should be a clamp down on advertisement of price reductions and on post-promotion pricing.
  • Use of terms such as "faux leather" and "leather match" should be avoided in order to prevent consumers from being misled into believing the products are actually leather.

The guidelines are given legal recognition by the Act and they may be submitted as evidence before the courts in respect of proceedings or disputes relating to the Act, where relevant.

Once the draft guidelines are introduced and finalised retailers will need to take account of them when advertising, offering gift vouchers and in their sales practices. These are all important promotion tools in the retail business, but retailers will need to conduct such activities in compliance with their obligations under the Act. For this reason, if retailers have contrary views to those expressed in the NCA's draft guidelines now is the time to act.

The NCA has extended an invitation to those in the retail industry to submit their observations and opinions on the draft guidelines before 6 October 2008.

If you wish to make a submission to the NCA in response to the guidelines, LK Shields Solicitors would be happy to help.