Some Westchester retail stores are now eligible to apply for a waiver from the county's item-pricing law.Thanks to technology, some Westchester retail stores are now eligible to apply for a waiver from the county's item-pricing law.

County Executive Robert P. Astorino has signed an amendment to the county's 35-year-old unit pricing law. The amendment, approved by the Board of Legislators, rewards businesses that consistently maintain accurate computer scanning of prices by freeing them of the obligation to put prices on every item.

Westchester County's item-pricing law was enacted in 1975 to ensure that consumers at the register were able to make sure they were being accurately charged.

"This legislation recognizes that with advances in technology we can protect consumers and offer business relief from the burden of marking every item they sell with an individual price," Astorino said.

With the new amendment, retailers may apply for a waiver of the item-pricing law on an annual basis provided that the retailer successfully demonstrates to the Department of Consumer Protection that its checkout scanners are at least 98 percent accurate, that price check scanners are readily available to consumers throughout the store, and that shelf labels are provided for all items.
The consumer department will periodically inspect these stores and could revoke the waiver.

John Gaccione, acting director of consumer protection, said, "Self scanners for consumers will be placed in different areas of a store, so that shoppers will be able to check prices while shopping by first looking at the item's shelf tag and then by using a self scanner before heading to a checkout line."

The amendment was also praised by Laurence Gottlieb, director of the county's Office for Economic Development, who said, "Given the economic climate, we must ensure we are stripping away the red tape that constricts smart business growth. This amendment strikes the right balance between protecting the interests of the consumer and the needs of business owners -- interests that should not be mutually exclusive."

Similar item pricing waiver legislation has been enacted in jurisdictions including Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Erie, Renssalear and St. Lawrence counties.

Amendments allowing for waivers of the county’s item pricing law take effect on June 27, 2010. Business owners can complete an item pricing waiver application and forward it to the Department of Consumer Protection.