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November 19, 2012

Stephen Robertson
Director General, BRC
Responding to today's announcement by the Government of the next steps in its ‘midata' project, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed the fact that the initiative focuses on sectors where consumers need more information.

The Government has published its consultation response today and confirmed that it will press ahead with legal requirements for suppliers of energy, mobile phones, credit cards and bank accounts, but not general retailing.

The BRC has argued that imposing new requirements on retailing would bring little benefit to consumers, but place costly new burdens on retailers. Competition provides the best means to ensure consumers receive the goods and services they want at the best prices. A wide range of retailer activities, together with the development of online and mobile shopping, already give customers wide access to information on prices and products.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: "This is a sensible approach to progress the ‘midata' project. Complicated financial product prices can be hard to compare. Shop prices are straightforward.

"Retailers already provide information in ways that work best for their customers. People don't use shops in the way they do a gas supplier. We don't sign a grocery contract with a supermarket. We use lots of shops and switch freely between them. We really need to understand what customers use information on their purchases for and then consider how best to meet those needs. We look forward to working with the Government to see how existing retailer activity could be used to address customer needs in this area."

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