The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

May 15, 2013

Black Friday illegal in Oklahoma? Say it isn't so ...

OKLAHOMA CITY — Low-price retail events like "Black Friday" sales where retailers sell some items at a steep discount would be legal again in Oklahoma under a bill approved Wednesday by the Oklahoma Senate.

The Senate voted 29-16 for the bill by Sen. David Holt, which makes changes to the state's Unfair Sales Act, a law originally enacted in 1941 that requires retailers in Oklahoma to sell products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for it. A recent attorney general's opinion confirmed that Black Friday and other low-price sales events are illegal, even if they are temporary.

"Consumers want to have in Oklahoma what they have in almost every other state, which is the ability to walk into a store on Black Friday or other low-price sale days and buy things at much reduced cost that the retailer feels is worth it to them to bring that person into the store," said Holt, R-Oklahoma City. "Since 1941 we have not had that ability in Oklahoma, and it's been most glaring the last few years when you've got a national phenomenon going on with Black Friday sales across the country."

Holt said the law was enacted more than 70 years ago at the urging of grocers who were growing weary of price wars, often times over bread or other products that were being sold below cost.

Holt's bill would allow a retailer to sell an item below cost for up to 15 days in a row as many as ten times a year.

The 6 percent markup would still apply to more than a dozen items that are exempted from the bill, including prescription drugs, fuel, food and nonalcoholic beverages, baby supplies, household soaps, health and beauty aids, over-the-counter medicines, paper and plastic goods, low-point beer and lumber and other building materials.

The measure now heads to the House for final consideration.

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