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.

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

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. 

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