UK retailers warn against switching to imperial sizes

British retailers have warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his plans to revive imperial measures will push up prices of goods – as they need to be re-labelled – just as consumers are battling the worst cost of living crisis a generation.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents some of the country’s largest supermarket and retail chains, said the reintroduction of units of measurement in pounds and ounces would “distract” attention from the huge problems facing the country.

Business unit BEIS will launch a consultation on Friday into whether retailers should be able to sell products in the imperial system rather than the metric system.

The move has been hailed as a “benefit” for Britain to leave the EU and has been backed by some pro-Brexit politicians.

However, critics have accused ministers of enacting the policy to distract the public from the economic crisis sparked by the “partygate” scandal and soaring energy prices, which has left Johnson’s ruling Conservatives trailing in the polls.

Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, assistant director of food at the BRC, said supermarkets were focused on offering customers great value for money amid “strong” inflationary pressures. Grocery prices have risen about 6% over the past year.

“Introducing new laws to change the way we measure food and beverages would both distract from this important task and add cost and complexity if existing products need to be relabeled,” she said. Martinez-Inchausti noted that stores are already allowed to display imperial measurements alongside metric.

The metric system was officially introduced in the UK in 1965, with some exceptions such as milk and beer still sold in pints.

A group of fruit and vegetable traders known as the “Metric Martyrs” rose to prominence 20 years ago when they launched a campaign for traders to sell their products in imperial units.

But while the EU initially ordered the UK to stop using imperial units alongside the metric system, it Dropped this requirement in 2007.

Joe Harrison, chief executive of the National Federation of Market Traders, said it didn’t make sense to change stalls back to imperial when most young people grew up with metric sizes.

Harrison told daily telegraph The shift would be a “trouble”, adding: “For what purpose? It seems like it’s just going to hang in the past, nostalgia.”

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards has raised concerns about the idea of ​​reintroducing imperial measurements, warning the move risks “confounding” customers who have only been taught in the metric system.

CTSI Chief Executive John Herriman said the real impact of any proposed changes needs to be understood.

“We understand the desire to create a feel-good factor, especially in times of many profound economic challenges,” he said.

“However, at a time when consumers and businesses are already feeling rising prices and inflationary pressures, it is very important that any proposed measures do not mislead the public on value for money and the price of everyday items, or increase unnecessary costs. …to bring chaos to the business.”

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