The Price Marking Order 2004

The Price Marking Order 2004 applies to suppliers (including online retailers) that sell products (not services) to consumers. The Order requires the selling price and, where appropriate, the unit price of products to be clearly displayed.

The Price Marking Order 2004 implements Directive 98/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ No. L180, 18.3.98 p. 27) on consumer protection in the indication of prices of products offered to consumers.

It revokes the Price Marking Order 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 3042) which previously implemented the Directive. Article 4 requires traders to indicate the selling prices of all products offered for sale to consumers except those offered in the course of the provision of a service, those sold by auction, works of art or antiques (article 3(1)) and products sold from bulk. Article 1 defines the selling price as the final price including VAT and other taxes.Article 3(2) applies to this Order the requirements of The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002.

Unit price

The unit price (which is the price per kilogram, litre etc of goods sold by quantity) is required for products sold loose from bulk (e.g. fruit and vegetables) and pre-packaged products which are required by Weights and Measures (W&M) legislation to be marked with quantity or to be made up in a prescribed quantity – i.e. those where quantity is a relevant consideration in the decision to buy. Information about the quantity marking requirements under W&M legislation is annexed to this note.

Standard units

The standard units of quantity to be used for unit pricing purposes are one kilogram, litre, metre, square metre or cubic metre and the unit ‘one’ for goods sold by number.

Some exceptions are allowed and the Order contains a list of products that must be unit priced using different units of quantity - usually 100g or 100ml.

Similar products should use the same unit for unit pricing purposes to allow consumers to readily compare prices between them. In exceptional circumstances this may mean that a product required to show a unit price per kilogram, for example, could usefully show a further price per 100g.

Pricing information

Prices must be in sterling. Where a trader indicates a willingness to accept a foreign currency for the purchase of a product the Order provides that, in addition to the sterling price indication, further specific information must also be given about exchange rates, commission etc. All prices must be inclusive of VAT and all other taxes. Postage, packing or delivery charges, however, may be shown separately as long as they are unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible.

Display of pricing information

The Order requires that prices must be "unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible" but it is not prescriptive about the way in which those requirements are met. It does, however, require that consumers should not have to ask for assistance in order to be able to see a price. Legibility of
price indications in this context means legible to a consumer with normal sight.

The elderly and disabled

Traders are reminded of their obligations under the disability legislation to take into account the needs of the elderly and disabled groups. Clear pricing information is essential.

Single and group pricing

Prices can be shown on the goods themselves, on a ticket or notice on or near to them, or grouped together with other prices on a list or catalogue(s) in close proximity to them.

Price indications given in the course of conducting a sale by telephone clearly cannot meet the Order’s “legibility” requirement. However, such indications must be clearly audible and linked to the subject of the sales transaction if they are to meet the Order’s requirements of “unambiguous, easily identifiable” and to be in keeping with the “proximity” requirement.

General reductions and precious metals

Where a trader wants to reduce the price of products that are already priced as the Order requires he may indicate the final selling and/or unit price of the product by displaying a general notice (or by any other visible means) that the products are for sale at a reduction, provided that the details of the reduction are prominently displayed, unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible.

In the case of products the selling price of which varies from day to day according to the price of the precious metals contained in them, the obligation to indicate the selling price may be complied with by indicating, in a manner which is unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible, the weight, type and standard of fineness of each precious metal contained in the product, the price per unit of weight and any element of the selling price which is not referable to weight.

Window displays

Window and similar displays, which contain products that are actually removed and sold to consumers – e.g. in a jeweller’s or a baker’s shop - must display selling and unit prices (where relevant) on their products.

Special requirements apply where consumer and staff safety may be compromised by the display of particular high value products (i.e. items of jewellery, watches and precious metal with a selling price in excess of £3,000) and these are described in the Order. Window displays, which do not contain products that are removed and sold to consumers may be regarded as being purely promotional, in which case they will fall within the definition of
"advertisement". A unit price is required to be displayed in an advertisement only if a selling price is shown.

Products that fall outside the scope of the Order

The following products fall outside the scope of the Order:

  • Products that are supplied in the course of the provision of a service (e.g. shampoo used at a hairdressers, food and drink consumed in pubs or restaurants, heated take-away foods etc). Goods manufactured to order do not have to be price marked but where only a limited number of choices are possible – e.g. a sofa available in 3 different types of material at different prices - then prices should be given.
  • Sales by auction and sales of works of art and antiques do not have to indicate selling or unit prices.