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ABC Bargain Centre, Valu$ and ABC Express outlets to cease “Closing Down Sale” and “Fire Sale” advertisements

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore said such advertisements can mislead consumers into believing that there is a price benefit and that too for a limited period

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The owners and operators of “ABC Bargain Centre”, “Valu$”, and “ABC Express” retail outlets have voluntarily undertaken to cease the use of “Closing Down Sale” and “Fire Sale” advertisements at all Retail Outlets, as from 30 September 2020.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) revealed this in a press release issued on Friday (16 Oct).

It said that the retail chains approached it in 2019 to discuss certain advertisements in its outlets bearing the language “Closing Down Sale” and “Fire Sale”, which 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.

CCCS said that it 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 since the advertisements were displayed continuously at the Retail Outlets without any end date.

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Since advertisements which mislead consumers constitute an unfair practice in breach of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (Cap. 52A), the retail chains have voluntarily undertaken to:

  • Remove any and all advertisements containing the word “Fire Sale” at the Retail Outlets;
  • Not advertise any products as being available at a discounted price for a limited period of time at the Retail Outlets, where the Parties knows or ought to know that the products will continue to be so available for a substantially longer period, unless the Retail Outlet in question is genuinely ceasing operations; and
  • Not advertise products as being available at a discounted price at the Retail Outlets where no genuine price benefit or advantage underlying the advertisement exists.

The chains have also undertaken to use all reasonable efforts to notify and ensure that their franchisees adhere to the obligations and have undertaken to co-operate with CCCS on an ongoing basis to ensure that all obligations are met.

CCCS added that it is closely monitoring other businesses that engage in similar unfair practices, where consumers are made to believe that there is a price benefit, and a scarcity in the availability of discounted prices for goods or services through misrepresentation of discounts or promotion periods.

The authority also welcomes efforts by suppliers to review their business practices in order to comply with the CPFTA. Consumers who encounter unfair practices can approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) for assistance, as well.

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