The Norman Transcript

February 17, 2013

Senate takes first step to bring lower sale prices to Oklahomans

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, commended the Senate Business & Commerce Committee for passing SB 550, which will help Oklahoma consumers by legalizing “Black Friday” and other low-price sales. The bill passed on Thursday by a 5-2 vote. Voting in favor of SB 550 were Senators Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, John Ford, R-Bartlesville, Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, and Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee.

 “Oklahomans should have every right to enjoy the lower prices that Americans in 48 other states do,” said Holt. “Why should our citizens have to drive to Texas or Arkansas to enjoy greater savings?  If a retailer wants to offer low prices, that’s good for consumers, it’s good for our economy, and it reflects a free market decision that retailers should be allowed to make.”

Holt thanked legislators for “standing up for consumers and the free market.” 

Under current law, which was originally enacted in 1941, retailers must sell products for at least six percent more than they paid for it. A December 2011 opinion from the Oklahoma Attorney General confirmed that state law bars all “Black Friday” and other low-price sales, even if they are only temporary.  As a result, many retailers, including the largest retailer in the state, are shutting down their “Black Friday” and other low-price sales until Oklahoma’s laws are modernized. Senate Bill 550 would change that for all products, except for fuel and prescription drugs.

The current law keeps Oklahomans from enjoying lower prices, and it punishes retailers who offer lower prices. Retailers doing business in Oklahoma have been successfully sued under the law for offering consumers a bargain. Retailers are also subject to arrest for offering consumers a bargain.

The Oklahoma Antitrust Reform Act, which is not affected in any way by SB 550, will continue to bar retailers from engaging in predatory pricing that hampers competition among retailers.

The existing ban on low prices impacts deals on everything from Thanksgiving turkeys to televisions to clothing, and all products in-between. The existing law doesn’t just apply to low prices that may occur during special sales, but all low prices that a retailer may charge any day of the year. It is believed that only two states have a law that bars these low prices – Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Holt said the outdated law puts Oklahomans at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states where retailers can legally offer significant bargains for “Back-to-School” and holiday sales, including “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day of the year. By forcing Oklahomans to leave the state to shop, consumers, retailers, and core government services are all negatively impacted.

Senate Bill 550 next goes to the full Senate for consideration.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.