, Muskogee, OK

December 9, 2013

End to limits on discounts right move

— This year was the first time since 1941 that shoppers could buy at full-on Black Friday discounts in Oklahoma.

Low-price retail events with deeply discounted items had been illegal under the Unfair Sales Act. The law required retailers to sell products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for them. The Legislature changed the law during the 2013 session.

Whether you are a fan of the frenzied frantic Black Friday shopping or not, the change was the right move.

The law was often ignored by retailers and rarely enforced. When it was enforced, it was often in response to complaints from competitors. Uneven enforcement of a law is bad in principle.

Further, the act applied in Oklahoma, but nearby states and Internet sales are not subject to the same restrictions. That made the measure essentially pointless.

Consumers like deep discounts, and free market principles say retailers should be able to offer them.

Parts of the act’s restrictions are still in place. The 6 percent markup still applies to more than a dozen items — including prescription drugs, fuel, groceries, baby supplies, over-the-counter medicines, lumber and other building materials.

The Legislature should consider changing that. Part of good law-making is getting bad laws off the books.