Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog has rolled out a raft of new features as part of a digital revamp, upgrading its groceries price tracker to make it easier to compare products while adding real-time data to its app for motorists seeking cheaper fuel. The updates are the latest to be rolled out by the Consumer Council since the end of August and also include improvements to its complaints submission platform. The Online Price Watch website has been freshened up with a design which the council says refines the user experience for filtering exact product types for comparison. Hong Kong Consumer Council calls for review of city’s motor-fuel market The price tracker compares hundreds of household items sold across seven local retailers – Wellcome, ParknShop, Marketplace by Jasons, Watsons, Mannings, AEON and DCH Food Mart. Shoppers can browse products ranging from biscuits, rice and baby milk formula to pet food. Hongkongers have encountered steeper shopping bills during the Covid-19 pandemic, with supply chain issues helping to drive prices up at the city’s major supermarkets. The council’s annual survey published in April found that the average cost of a basket of 230 items sold in 2020 in Wellcome and ParknShop – the city’s two biggest supermarket chains – increased 1.9 per cent compared with the previous year, well above the 0.3 per cent inflation rate. Peter Shiu Ka-fai, the lawmaker representing the wholesale and retail sector, said supermarkets had also taken a hit from higher logistics costs and sourcing issues brought on by the pandemic. “Hong Kong imports most of its food from overseas so it is sensitive to price fluctuations, which have become more evident during the pandemic,” he said. “Consumers suffer in the short term when it gets difficult to transport food products such as meat and poultry.” The council’s Oil Price Watch mobile app, which launched last November, now allows motorists to track fuel prices in real time. Consumers can monitor trends on petrol and diesel prices across the city’s five main fuel retailers. They are PetroChina, Sinopec, Shell, Caltex and Esso. The service is available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play for Android users. Both the app and its associated website feature a fuel cost calculator and allow shoppers to keep tabs on discounts and price fluctuations. Rising supermarket prices squeeze Hongkongers during Covid-19 crisis “The Consumer Council firmly believes that through having different pricing and information tools, along with timely updates, it will be able to protect the rights of consumers and enables everyone to [make smart decisions],” the body said in a statement. The watchdog previously called for a regulatory review of Hong Kong’s petrol prices after its own study found the gap between retail and import prices had doubled in the seven years to 2020. The council has also upgraded the user interface of its complaints webpage to allow consumers to raise concerns across 10 areas including travel, beauty services, electrical appliances and renovation works.
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