I saw a TV ad for a national retailer last night touting a Black Friday sale that included in the fine print something about how the price might be different in Oklahoma. Why?
The culprit seems to be Oklahoma’s Unfair Sales Act, a stringent anti-discounting rule that’s supposed to protect the state’s incumbent business owners from interlopers from outside. The rule states that with only a few exemptions, retailers might price their wares at least 6 percent above cost.
The theory of the case is that absent such legal protection a deep-pocketed national chain could come to town and operate at a loss until all the local competition is driven out of business. But real world discounting can serve many other purposes. A typical retail discounting strategy involves amazing bargains on a relatively small number of items, with the purpose of the bargain being to get shoppers in the door in the first place. The hope is that while trying to get that amazing sweater, you’ll also by a hat, some socks, and a Christmas present for your niece.
But not in Oklahoma.