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Difficult to read Unit Pricing on Shelf Labels


That type of format is required in some states in the USA where unit prices must be provided and is also by some retailers in other states where unit price provision is voluntary.

Here is a photo of that type of shelf label.


Great pic. Lucky for them you can’t easily divide a pound by tenths. At least it’s priced in Dollars.


The photo below of the old (right side) and new (left side) large shelf labels side by side on a shelf allows you to easily compare how well the unit price is displayed on each. (at least when looking at photos on a screen - which may be different to when in a shop).

I think the new unit price is less prominent and legible mainly because, even though it is less compressed, it is not in bold font, and it is a smaller % of the size of the bigger print used for the selling price. (For me the line between the selling and unit price on the old label also increases prominence, However, others may have different views.)

Any views on the above and whether the print used for the unit price should also be much bigger?


I share your comments above, and as for size, I think the US example where both price and unit price are the same size delivers visual and thus mental clutter having to discern which is which. It is clearly labelled which is which, but it is just ‘messy’.

Without making comparative examples to see how it goes I suggest the unit price should be specified as being a specific % of the product price, 50% or 70% seems about right. I don’t think unit prices should be specified as being sized between percents (eg not less than 50% or more than 100%) because it could create an inconsistency that could be used to game the presentations within a shop. Further I think we humans respond better to and more easily take in presentations that appear consistent.

I do find the new label product description font easier, so no inference my comments on the pricing are also applicable to the product descriptive text.


I still say the line adds a “emphasis” point to the pricing. The line creates a difference so the eye is drawn to the change.


The font of the new cost price is a bit easier to read when one is not close to the label.

I like the American idea of having the unit price up at the same level as the cost price.

Taking into account that the bottom of some shelf labels are obscured, the way I would do it is I would put the product description across the full width of the top of the label. Underneath that the cost price, and the unit price next to it in a slightly smaller font. And there should still be room beside those for the small UPN barcode.

The whole thing would be easier to read.


2 posts were split to a new topic: ALDI making unit prices on shelf labels much less easy to notice and read


I had a slightly different experience regarding shelf prices at our local Coles last week.

After an absence of a year or more, Coles finally had stocks of cryovac sealed bone-in rib eye which were labelled as $30 kg but the shelf price sign was $26 kg.

I selected the largest one, an 843 gm monster, the largest I have ever seen.

Sure enough, it scanned at the packet price of $30kg. I paid at the self-service checkout and proceeded to the service desk.

The staff member took it to the employee stacking products in the meat section, and I saw her very quickly remove the shelf price label.

The staff member returned and refunded the product price to me.

As the Coles TV ads state “Good things are happening to prices at Coles”.

“I saved 25 dollars and 29 cents”.


Another variation on unit pricing. Woollies this time!
Are tea bags $2.75 per 100gm or 6c each. Both are for a 100 bag packet. Same brand, same special, different variety if that matters. And actually the bags are 5.5c but what’s half a cent between tea bags?

The last pic shows a standard pricing label with what my aging eyes would call a readable unit price. The unit pricing on the specials label is much less significant and much harder to read with store lighting. The phone camera makes it look better than it is.


Can we take them to the Human Rights Commission for age discrimination? It might be OK for the young 'uns, but with the growing bulge of baby boomers reaching their senior years, it is too hard to read the small prints.



Thanks for these examples of these problems, which have been discussed here before. They are quite common with products for which the unit price can be calculated either in terms of the number of items (e.g. teabags) or the total amount of the items (e.g. the total weight of the teabags) in the package.

The mandatory unit pricing Code recognizes this potential inconsistent problem and says that the unit of measure used for the unit price should be “that by which that grocery category is most often supplied”. So this gives the retailer some flexibility about which unit of measure to use.

However, only one should be used for the category. Therefore, the same measure should be used to unit price all packs of tea bags in the store.

The Code also recognizes potential problems if a measure of count e.g. tea bag is chosen by requiring that when most of the packs contain 41 or more items the unit price must be per 100 items. This is ensure consistency and to reduce problems caused by very small differences in the unit price of only one item e.g. a tea bag.

I agree with you that:

  • the unit prices on the special offer labels are sufficiently prominent and legible, especially when not at eye level and with poor store lighting.
  • photos often make the unit price look better than it is when looked at in situ.

The ACCC is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Code.


I agree. The legislation should be written and administered so that retailers provide unit prices that can be can be easily read anywhere by people with less than normal sight. And, to do so consumers should not have to bend, stoop or stretch.


Excuse my cynicism, but to me that explains why the large chains aren’t too fussed about compliance.