The great thing about supermarkets is that the price of whatever it is you’re buying (most likely Bombay Mix in my case) is right there underneath it. You see it says 99p and you put it in your basket, then when you go to pay, it is still 99p, so you hand over 99p (or £1.98 because you’ve bought two packets). You know how much it is, and you pay how much it is – it’s great.
The bad thing about Uber is that you never know how much your journey will cost, even if you’ve done it before. That’s because they hike up the price when it’s busy, so the same trip that cost you eight quid last Saturday, is now costing you £32. However, you are drunk so you pay it.
So, taking both of those good and bad things into account, it is now also bad that supermarkets will be introducing Uber-esque surge pricing to their products. They’ll be using electronic labels to display prices, a feature of which will be the ability to change them store-wide within 20 seconds. So basically, when it’s hot, they can ramp up the price of Twisters and Soleros, and at lunchtime, they could decide to charge a little bit extra for that depressing sandwich you’re about to take back to your desk and eat alone in silence.
Andrew Dark, chief executive of electronic pricing company Displaydata, told the Sunday Telegraph: “This kind [electronic] of technology will be dominant in the UK within two years and within five years it will be rare to see a paper price tag.
“Paper tags often show the wrong prices as they have to be manually replaced by staff when prices move, but electronic labels can be updated in just 20 seconds.
“At present supermarkets are only able to act on around 20% of the price changes their computer systems recommend, but this is about to change.”
It’s already commonplace in the US and some other countries in Europe, and in fact, some supermarkets over here have already tried it. Last year Marks and Spencer got on board to switch up its prices during the lunchtime rush – it had cheaper deals on sarnies and the like before 11am, encouraging people to buy their lunch early on to stop the midday madness.
So we’ve got this to look forward to, basically. You’ll chuck your 99p Bombay Mix into your cart, walk one minute to the till, and OH, it’s 67 quid now. However, you are drunk, so you pay it.