Boohoo advertised a time limited sale on their website ending at midnight, creating a psychological tool often known as ‘scarcity marketing that deprived online shoppers of the time to make an informed choice – which sits within the 31 banned marketing practices of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation 2008.
Between August and November 2018, the BBC’s Watchdog Live recorded 14 sales advertised on Boohoo’s site with a countdown clock. But after the clocks on the sale reached zero, they were reset, and the offers continued, which completely goes against all advertising standards.
After an investigation the ASA determined that the promotion did not end when stated and in fact carried on. This meant that the advertised sale put pressure on consumers to buy within the set time frame, even though what was advertised was false, and by this point consumers may have made informed decisions. An ASA spokesperson said, “In this specific instance, the use of a countdown clock is problematic if it misleadingly implies the offer is time-limited when that is not the case.”
Pressure groups and MPs have criticised fashion retailers for using “countdown clocks,” to pressure shoppers into buying clothes they don’t need, which fuels fast fashion – something the ASA is now clamping down on.