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Individual Food Price Tags No Longer Required in Mass. Jan. 1

The law that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013 allows store owners to place scanners in the aisles, making shoppers do their own price checks, instead of individually marking each item.

 

Starting on New Year's Day 2013, Massachuetts is the last state in the union to abolish a law requiring individual price tags on all food items.

Instead of having the prices marked on every item, as has been the law since 1987, grocery stores can now install aisle price scanners every 5,000 square feet that would display the prices of scanned items.

Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill into law in July after earlier passing in the House and Senate—with only two senators in session.

The bill, called "An Act relative to clear and conspicuous price disclosure," has been strongly supported for years by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, who argued that the current system creates less accurate pricing, lowers the level of service for customers and raises consumer prices at checkout. They pointed to an Emory University study that reports consumer prices are 10 percent higher when "antiquated item pricing laws" are in place.

Furthermore, the advocacy group said that Massachusetts grocers are hurt by the competition with border states, which do not have laws requiring individual price tags on all items. 

But the law is not without its critics, who lobbied against the bill before Patrick signed it. Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s Legislative Director, wrote on the group's website in June, "We hope that the Governor realizes the importance of the current price disclosure law to consumers, and at a minimum that he amends this anti-consumer bill to be more protective of the shopping public." 

Cummings asserted that price scanners have proven to be highly inaccurate, but the Retailers of Massachusetts say the opposite is true. 

What do you think? Will this change your shopping experience or expectations at all?

yogasong January 01, 2013 at 12:16 PM
I'm disappointed that this has passed into law. It makes comparison shopping incredibly inconvenient. Having a price scanner available every 5000 sq ft? That's a pretty good distance when you're juggling 3 cans of beans and trying to make it out of the store in under 30 minutes. And what about people who are mobility-impaired? That's going to not only be an additional challenge for them but an additional time drain. I'm sorry to know that our supposedly liberal state has legislators who feel this was a good idea and that Deval agrees with them. Generally I'm a fan of Deval's but I feel he really let us down on this one.
Stephen Pepper January 01, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Already on December 23 we found the entire specialty cheese bin at the Jackson Square Stop and Shop missing not only individual price labels but price signs on the bin itself. We asked a stock clerk to check one price, but he had to travel so far that we didn't want to ask him to make a second trip. So we spent more than we would ordinarily, with the excuse that it was for a holiday party. That won't work every week!
MarkBoston January 01, 2013 at 07:23 PM
This is a consumers nightmare ... I NEVER buy an item that is not labeled or at least marked on the shelf below it . I will NOT walk an entire isle or two simply to find the price of an item . I wont shop there . Imagine a line at every scanner and the hundreds of products left at the scanner when two items are brought to it to find the lower price of the two .. A STUPID move indeed
Peg January 01, 2013 at 10:14 PM
There was a lawsuit against Home Depot about this, they ended up putting in scanners, most of which are broken and missing now.

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