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Prices website ‘needs to be independent’

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ANY standalone price comparison website must be independent of retailers and the States for it to be credible, the Consumer Council chairman has said.

Carl Walker

Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham said he would like to see an extended local price-comparison website that would show the cost of goods and services of different retailers to help combat Jersey’s high cost of living.

Senator Farnham is chairing a panel investigating how to control Jersey’s inflation rate, which recently has been more than double the equivalent level in the UK.

And Consumer Council chairman Carl Walker has said that should the resources be available to create a website to compare prices on everyday goods then the council would be ‘keen to be involved’.

Senator Farnham said that the team is planning to work more closely with the Jersey Consumer Council, which runs a ‘fuel watch’ web page that allows Islanders to compare the prices of petrol and diesel at different garages in Jersey.

Speaking about the project, Mr Walker said that the council was planning to include comparisons on everyday groceries, such as bread, milk and eggs, in their newsletter.

‘The majority of complaints we get from people are about the little things. It is everyday items that matter most and it is very difficult for people to compare like-for-like on everyday items in Jersey because everyone sells different brands of essential items.

‘Whether or not this gets as far as a standalone price comparison website will depend on resources and time, but we are having discussions with the minister and we are keen to be involved.

‘If there is an appetite for an Islandwide price comparison website, for it to be credible it needs to be independent of both retailers and the States.’

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Mr Walker added that it was important to monitor the increase in food prices ahead of a no-deal Brexit to prevent any dramatic hikes in price becoming accepted as standard.

‘The minister is trying to come up with the anti-inflation strategy to monitor prices in case of a no-deal Brexit.

‘If there are any sudden spikes in essential food goods due to shortages we want to make sure retailers lower prices when the cost readjusts to make sure that people are not taken advantage of.

‘Once prices go up they usually stay that way and it’s something we need to be able to monitor.’

The council’s first price comparison is expected to be published before the end of October.

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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