Consumer minister Kevin Brennan has warned consumers to be on their guard from retailers offering deals that seem too good to be true in the run-up to Christmas and the January sales, as part of the Government's "know your consumer rights" campaign.
He has also reminded retailers of their obligation not to mislead customers.
Cases have been brought to the Government's attention recently where retailers have been selling products for a short period at a higher price and then discounting them back down to their usual price, misleading consumers about the promotion.
Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan said:
"At this time of year, there are lots of offers being made to consumers, but they have a right to know whether they are really getting a bargain.
"Last year, the government brought in new laws which ban retailers and traders from misleading consumers about the price of a product or any discounts available. We've also provided a guide for retailers setting out best practice on how to make sure they don't mislead consumers about pricing.
"We know that this sort of thing happens a lot, so I want to warn consumers to be on their guard. If someone thinks that a price has been unfairly marked up, or a discount isn't genuine, then they should report this to their local trading standards team who will be able to take action and stop this exploitation of consumers.
"Consumers can protect themselves too, by shopping around for the best deal and comparing prices online. Practical advice on what to do before you buy, and your rights after you've bought something is available from the consumer direct website."
Martin Fisher, pricing lead officer at the Trading Standard Institute added:
"Trading standards will continue to work with supermarkets and other retailers to tackle pricing methods that are in breach of the law and guidance provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
"We at the Trading Standards Institute are concerned about how widespread continuous special offers or seasonal price ballooning are in supermarkets and elsewhere, and feel time has come for tough action."
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations have been in place for over a year and prevent practices such as advertising a product that is not available to entice customers into a shop and misleading consumers by having a product on constant special offer.
These regulations are currently being used by Trading Standards officers in Dorset to bring a prosecution against the owners of the 'Lapland' themed Christmas attraction in the New Forest which received multiple complaints from customers in the run-up to Christmas 2008.