MASSPIRG Opposes Bills to Weaken Retail Price Disclosure Laws

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Statement by Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director


Boston. At a State House hearing today, MASSPIRG urged the Joint Legislative Committee on Community Development and Small Business to oppose 8 bills which would severely weaken or eliminate the popular price disclosure law which requires retailers to price stickers on most supermarket items.

Any change to our current retail pricing system must first provide equal or better benefits to the consumer to be considered as a substitute. The eight bills before you today do not provide equal or improved consumer benefits and therefore should be rejected.

Basic, unadulterated price disclosure is more important today than it has ever been. Consumers are inundated with multi-billion dollar marketing strategies to get us to buy their products or shop their stores for the best deal or a bargain. Some marketing gimmicks may be offering genuine sales and some do not. But,  in order for the consumer to wade through a barrage of  marketing gimmicks and make an assessment as to the value of the deal,  they must have access to the very basic, easy to-find and easy to compare price information.

The price sticker may be old-fashioned but it works. It is the easiest way to find the price of an item, compare prices around the store, and tally one’s basket while shopping. It is the surest way to catch overcharges at the checkout or after going home, and it helps shoppers remember prices merely by checking the item in their cupboard. And when consumers are easily able to use and compare prices, they make purchasing decisions based on price, which in turn works to keep prices more competitive overall.

After 20 years of consumer advocacy, the hearing today reminded me that when Walmart, Costco, Stop and Shop, The Massachusetts Food Association and the Massachusetts Retail Association back a bill to promote “consumer protection”, we should all hold onto our wallets!   

For more information, click here for MASSPIRG’s full testimony.

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