Walmart ads spark legal battle over pricing war

Jan. 4, 2013

Walmart's price comparison ads claiming that the retail giant has better prices than specific, named competitors, have spurred legal retaliation from its angered foes.

According to, the Walmart ads, which began airing last spring, lambast the prices at rival retailers such as Toys "R" Us, Best Buy and regional supermarket chains in areas where the ads aired on television.

Walmart said it responded to attorneys general in Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Missouri over complaints from regional supermarkets and Toys "R" Us, the article reported, although it said it hasn't received complaints from Best Buy.

Best Buy, however, did take issue with a Walmart ad over the holidays that claimed a Dell laptop cost an additional $251 at Best Buy. The electronics retailer said that the two laptops in the comparison were different models and that the one it offered had a longer battery life, according to the article.

"That would be like comparing a Toyota to a Lexus," Keith Nelsen, Best Buy's general counsel, wrote in a Dec. 20 letter to the Florida attorney general's office, the article reported.

Analysts cite Walmart's sales slump following the recession for the new advertising tactics, as a means of regaining its rock-bottom price reputation.

"This is a price war that's causing many retailers a lot of angst," said Leon Nicholas, an analyst at consultancy Kantar Retail, in the article. "Wal-Mart had lost the pricing discipline it became famous for and now they are desperate to get it back."

Read more about supermarkets and grocery stores.

Topics: Supermarkets & Grocery Stores

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