I must be old school. I am very involved with my grandchildren and work with them on literacy and numeracy.

Whatever happened to learning times tables?

It seems like we lack the skills to work out a discount!

Can you really spot a discount? This quiz will test you

  • MAY 21, 2015 6:37PM



Kate Derrick carefully checks discount deals to get value for money. Picture: Mark Stewart

CONFUSING promotions and price tags in supermarkets, stores and catalogues are causing headaches for mathematically challenged shoppers.
Up to one in three customers misjudges the value of some discounts, a university study suggests.Poor literacy and numeracy skills, cluttered signs and inconsistent descriptions are blamed.Multi-buy offers, “percentage off” specials, and contracts with fee-free time periods were the hardest to decipher.
The shopper study found almost one-third miscalculated whether a pay-TV subscription with two months free was cheaper than another with lower monthly payments over the entire year.One-quarter wrongly estimated the maximum saving from buying a pair of jeans and getting a second item of equal or lower value half price. (To check your shopping nous, take our online quiz.)A similar number could not calculate whether 45c or 15 per cent was the best discount off a $4 loaf of bread.Researchers Svetlana Bogomolova and Pei Jie Tan, from the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, found young adults and those on low incomes were most at risk of price “manipulation”.Savvy shopper Kate Derrick carefully checks price and package sizes for value.“You do have to have your wits about you. With some multi-buys the discount is off cheaper products, not the higher-priced ones,” she said.“And not everyone necessarily needs two or three items.”Dr Bogomolova urged consumers to check the unit price per weight or volume on supermarket tags.“A sales sign or special should not be a licence to stop looking at alternatives which may still be cheaper, or the same brand in a different pack size,” she said.“Best-practice guidelines for the retail industry need to be developed on how to clearly communicate price promotion information.”The Australian National Retailers Association declined to comment.Dr Bogomolova said “smart shopping” advice should be added to school curriculums.The study tested 600 Australians’ understanding of different types of discounts in an online survey. The authors suggested even more may have trouble in a real environment.karen.collier@news.com.au