NIST Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) is collaborating with the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), together with 28 state and 38 local weights and measures jurisdictions to conduct a National Price Verification Survey in early 2024, to evaluate how well retails stores across the country are maintaining price accuracy. The National Survey will cover a range of store types including grocery, supercenters, big box/department, warehouse/club, dollar/discount, convenience, drug/pharmacy, automotive, home centers, and clothing retail stores found in the retail sector of the consumer market. Statistical information, such as the total number of stores examined and number of items inspected, together with the percent of accuracy (or compliance rates), overcharges vs undercharges, and range of and average errors will be collected and collated based on store types.
It is unlawful in all 50 states to advertise a price that is not accurate. Within the Uniform Weights and Measures Laws, the misrepresentation of price regulation states that “No person shall misrepresent the price of any commodity or service sold, offered, exposed, or advertised for sale by weight, measure, or count, nor represent the price in any manner calculated or tending to mislead or in any way deceive a person.”
All participating state and local weights and measures jurisdictions in the National Price Verification Survey will follow the Examination Procedure for Price Verification (EPPV) as contained in the 2024 edition of NIST Handbook 130. The EPPV provides regulatory officials with test procedures to monitor and evaluate the pricing practices of any store. Specifically, the weights and measures officials will be comparing the price at which products are advertised or displayed to the price charged at the check-out counter. If the price charged to the customer differs from the price at which the item is offered, exposed, or advertised for sale via on the item itself, a shelf label, or signage, whether it is an overcharge or undercharge, it is considered a misrepresentation of price.
In support of the survey, OWM provided “NIST Handbook 130 - Examination Procedure for Price Verification” training webinars on the procedures to over 375 officials who will be conducting price verification inspections. A significant portion of the 375 inspectors that will take part in the National Survey have conducted prior price verification inspections within their respective jurisdictions. To accommodate this need, OWM provided four separate trainings between November and December of 2023, to allow ample opportunity for all participants and any other interested parties to join a recording of a Price Verification webinar on the EPPV procedures is available on our Learning Resources webpage or directly here: https://www.nist.gov/video/examination-procedure-price-verification.
The results of this survey will assist retailers to create or improve pricing action plans if needed, empower consumer groups to educate consumers and shoppers while addressing any errors at the store level, and facilitate weights and measures programs to better allocate inspection resources. An anticipated release of the data and overall results to the public is forecasted to be in the summer of 2024.
For further information on OWM training, you may contact John McGuire at john.t.mcguire [at] nist.gov (john[dot]t[dot]mcguire[at]nist[dot]gov) or Marc Paquette, NCWM Vice Chair, at marc.paquette [at] vermont.gov (marc[dot]paquette[at]vermont[dot]gov) for all other matters related to the 2024 National Price Verification Survey.