Leading Retailers Urge FTC to Protect Consumers, Competition

Price isn't only factor worthy of anti-competitive scrutiny

After six months of hearings conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) examining competition and consumer protection in the modern economy, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is urging Commissioners to take the next step with investigations and actions against companies that are impeding free market competition or deliberately deceiving consumers. In official comments submitted to the FTC, RILA argued that the digital revolution in retail requires new thinking and approaches to antitrust enforcement and consumer protection. 

“Leading retailers believe the FTC has a responsibility to protect consumers by ensuring that competition exists throughout the retail ecosystem. RILA does not file this comment to complain about competition from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Visa, or any other technology or payments platform. Indeed, retail leaders comment to ask for more competition, not less. New approaches are necessary to ensure that access to information empowers, rather than manipulates, consumers as they navigate an economy dominated by a handful of giant tech platforms,” said Nicholas Ahrens, RILA vice president of innovation.

The robust record developed by the Commission demonstrates a clear need for additional investigation and action by the Commission, the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division, the Federal Communications Commission, and Congress.  

Retailers agree with the recommendation of 43 State Attorneys General that consideration of non-price effects should be given greater priority in technology market mergers.

“Modern antitrust investigation and enforcement needs to be driven by a greater recognition that control over information can drive anti-competitive effects just as much as market power and price control,” said Ahrens. “The Commission should consider rules or enforcement actions requiring such bottleneck technology platforms to convey information to consumers in ways that are transparent and do not mislead consumers about where products come from, whether they are new or used, whether their sale by a given retailer is authorized, and how the total price from one seller compares to the prices charged by others.”

RILA stands ready to work with the Commission in this ambitious review of competition and consumer protection in today’s ever-changing marketplace.

The complete comments submitted to FTC can be found here.

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RILA is the US trade association for leading retailers. We convene decision-makers, advocate for the industry, and promote operational excellence and innovation. Our aim is to elevate a dynamic industry by transforming the environment in which retailers operate.

RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

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