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June 18, 2024

New Jersey fines Walmart $1.64 million for not accurately using unit pricing

Regulators found more than 2,000 violations, which the attorney general said made it difficult for consumers to compare prices.

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Walmart must pay New Jersey $1.64 million for violating laws that require retailers to use consistent unit pricing measurements for products to help shoppers compare the value of goods.

Walmart has agreed to pay New Jersey $1.64 million to settle allegations that the company failed to follow the state's requirement to make it easier for consumers to easily compare the prices of products, the attorney general's office said Tuesday.

Inspections of Walmart's 64 stores in New Jersey found that the company didn't use accurate unit pricing for a variety of grocery items and other products. New Jersey is one of nine states where companies are mandated to display unit pricing using state-regulated measurements for food, coffee, cleaning products and other items.

Unit pricing helps shoppers determine the best value for their money by comparing similar products that are packaged in different sizes and quantities.

During state inspections of Walmart stores, regulators found more than 2,000 violations. In many instances, Walmart's unit prices reflected various units of measurement within the same product categories. The attorney general's office said the practices at Walmart made it "difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to compare prices" at its stores.

“As the price of grocery items continues to rise, it’s more important than ever to ensure consumers have all the information they need — and are entitled to by law — to make educated decisions on how to spend their money,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said.

Walmart was fined a total of $226,950 for similar violations in 2021 and 2022. The civil penalty announced Tuesday is the largest ever obtained by the Office of Weights and Measures, which is within the attorney general's Division of Consumer Affairs.

Cari Fais, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said the penalty is meant to "put chain retailers on notice" for repeated violations of the state's pricing laws.

In November, Dollar General was fined $1.2 million after New Jersey inspectors found thousands of products that scanned at higher prices than their listed prices in the store.

As part of Walmart's settlement, the company must become compliant with unit pricing requirements, conduct employee training and carry out internal audits of pricing practices at least once a year. Walmart stores also will be subject to ongoing inspections.