Wal-Mart, Costco Agree With N.Y. to Online Unit Pricing

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. are among six major retailers that will add information to websites and mobile applications under an agreement with New York’s attorney general that will allow shoppers to compare prices by unit.

The retailers, along with Walgreen Co., online grocer FreshDirect, CVS Caremark Corp. and Drugstore.com, agreed to put the unit prices on the Web-based shopping platforms within nine months, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said today.

While some type of per-unit pricing in physical store locations is required in 19 states and the District of Columbia, display of per-unit prices online has been rare, Schneiderman’s office said.

“As the Internet becomes the shopping mall of the 21st century, we need to ensure that consumers have the same robust protections online that they do in brick-and-mortar stores,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

New York’s unit pricing statute requires large retail stores to clearly display the price per unit of measurement for most types of food, cleaning and paper products, toiletries, pet food and over-the-counter medications. In written agreements, the companies said they would follow requirements of the New York law in disclosures online.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, and Issaquah, Washington-based Costco will provide unit pricing information on their websites and mobile stores throughout the U.S. by the end of this year, while the other stores will provide unit pricing online by March 2015, according to Schneiderman’s office.

Amazon Declined

Amazon.com Inc. declined to participate in New York’s initiative, Schneiderman’s office said. Amazon has unit pricing on some pages and doesn’t provide the information uniformly across its platforms, according to the office.

Amazon “claims it will extend unit pricing to its subsidiary Quidsi, which operates online stores like Soap.com, but refused to commit to that in a written agreement,” Schneiderman’s office said. A spokesman for the office, Nick Benson, declined to comment on whether any action can be taken against the Seattle-based retailer.

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