The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has sued four retailers, alleging deceptive advertising that it says misled shoppers into believing that thousands of products were on sale at a hefty discount. The retailers — J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s — falsely advertised high “list” or “regular” prices on merchandise that was never actually for sale at that price, according to the lawsuits filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. That led customers to believe that they were getting a better bargain with the “sale” price than they actually were.
Total Retail's Take: Many would argue that raising an item's list price in order to increase the size of the "discount" without the retailer taking too big of a hit on margin has been a common practice for years within the retail industry. It's just that now consumers — and by extension city attorney's offices, such as in Los Angeles — are fighting back against the deceptive tactic. Traditional store-based retailers, including the four named in the lawsuit, are increasingly going to greater lengths — i.e., deeper discounting — to get consumers into their stores as online shopping booms. It appears this time they may have crossed the line.