Online stores and retailers across Europe are lagging behind traditional shops and retailers in providing the right information in the right format to consumers about the energy performance of fridges, TVs and other domestic appliances, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
The EU funded product surveillance programme known as MarketWatch, which is managed by the Energy Saving Trust, found that nearly two thirds of products (62%) in the online stores and retailers that were checked had information missing about energy consumption and performance on the energy label. 38% of products in online shops and retailers were correctly labelled with the full and relevant energy performance information.
In UK online stores and retailers that were checked, 90% of products had energy information missing or displayed in the wrong format.
These figures were in a stark contrast to traditional shops and retailers, with over three quarters (77%) of products across Europe being correctly labelled. The shops checked in the UK had even higher figures, with 80% of products correctly labelled in traditional shops and retailers.
Of encouragement for UK online stores and retailers was that all of the products that were checked had some form of information provided about their energy performance.
These findings come following 225 shop visits (114 traditional shops and retailers and 111 online stores and retailers) on 68,000 different energy-using products across Europe as part of MarketWatch. In the UK over 700 products were assessed across eight online stores and retailers.
Energy Saving Trust has vowed to work with online shops and retailers to address this “energy information gap” and ensure that the full and correct information is provided on products. This is timely, with the introduction of the new online Energy Labelling Regulation – taking effect from January 1 2015 – which will ensure all new products placed on the market supply the actual energy label online.
Energy Saving Trust product certification manager Tom Lock says: “With rising energy bills, an increasing number of consumers are starting to consider the energy performance of products to ensure lower energy bills through products that perform more efficiently in the home.
“It’s encouraging that nearly all retailers are now displaying some form of information about the energy performance of products. However, the biggest problem is missing information on the label or information in the wrong format which means consumers are either confused or not fully-informed before they make a purchasing decision. This was a particularly big problem for online retailers, with nearly two-thirds of products displayed in the shops we checked not containing the half a dozen vital pieces of information about energy performance.”
He continues: “Between 80% and 90% of consumers say that the internet has some influence on their purchasing decisions, so we see this online ‘energy information gap’ as a big problem and will be using these results to work with online retailers and stores to ensure they display the full correct information on their products.
“At the same time, we will look at how this information about energy performance can be communicated to consumers online. This means presenting the energy performance of products in a more interactive, relevant, engaging and meaningful way to an increasingly tech-savvy audience.”