Smart & Final settles allegations of Covid price gouging


Eggs photo by Erol Ahmed on unsplash.com

published on April 5, 2022 – 2:23 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Tuesday a settlement with Smart & Final over allegations of price gouging during the pandemic.

The settlement with Smart & Final, which has six locations in the Fresno-Clovis area and five in the South Valley among its more than 250 nationwide stores, resolves allegations the retailer raised the price of four premium egg products beyond what was allowable during a state of emergency.

The settlement requires Smart & Final to pay $175,000 in penalties and permanently enjoins Smart & Final from future violations of the Unfair Competition Law, Penal Code section 396, or any related Executive Orders related to price-gouging.

“It is unacceptable to take advantage of hardworking California families during times of crisis,” said Attorney General Bonta. “When California first went into lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a run on essential supplies, and unfortunately, some businesses saw this as an opportunity to pad their bottom line. Let me be clear, price gouging during a declared state of emergency is illegal. Today’s settlement should serve as a warning to grocers and other sellers of essential supplies: Follow state price gouging laws, or you will be held accountable.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, triggering price gouging protections making it illegal during the 30 days following a declaration to sell goods and necessities, including food items, at prices more than 10% higher than before the declaration.

On April 3, 2020, Newsom issued an executive order extending price gouging protections for an additional five months.
Following Newsom’s emergency declaration, the Attorney General’s Office received a large number of price-gouging complaints reporting dramatic increases in the retail price of eggs. Many of these complaints related specifically to price spikes at Smart & Final stores across the state. 
The Attorney General’s investigation found that Smart & Final sold over 100,000 cartons of unlawfully priced eggs while price gouging protections were in place.





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