City Passes Amendments To Retail Laws That Provide Updates And Modernization Of Current Industry Regulation

March 9, 2011

Efrat Stein    312.744.5365

Today, the Chicago City Council passed a series of amendments to the retail industry law (Chicago Municipal Code Chapter 4-276) that brings the current ordinance up to date with current state and federal laws and mandates standards that make Chicago’s regulations in line with national standards and practices.  The changes will reflect a more progressive environment for both businesses and consumers.

In addition, this update eliminates the need for businesses to reprogram software to make exceptions for retail sales in the City of Chicago.  The changes were recommended by the BACP Retail Industry Advisory Group, a working group put together to update and modernize City ordinances.  The group is comprised of members of the Chicago Retail Merchants Association, members of the industry and City personnel. 

The changes address many conflicting and obsolete sections of chapter 4-276 that deal with many aspects of retail operations. Some highlights of the amendments are as follows:

  • Removes the requirement to place USDA grade marks on meat and poultry unless mandated by the USDA.  This section will be updated to conform with current federal USDA standards.
  • Removes the requirement that all meat and poultry be packaged in transparent trays. Today, most retailers do not package meat and poultry products on their premises, they purchase pre-packaged meats and poultry wholesale from large multi-state distributors that package on foam trays, not transparent trays.  This section now reflects current, national retail grocery practices.
  • Provides clear definitions of what “consumer commodities” are, thus eliminating the need for unit pricing on the label for every good sold in the store.  The new definition uses the NIST Weights and Measures definition of “consumer commodities” that is used by most other states and local governments that regulate pricing. The changes eliminate the need for retailers to program computer systems to accommodate City of Chicago rules.
  • Currently, the ordinance requires stores to use specific pricing units when pricing specific commodities.  For example, relishes and other condiments had to be unit priced by the quart or pound and unit pricing by the ounce was not permitted. The new update gives retailers the flexibility to unit price in the unit of measure that makes the most sense for consumers to make smart decisions as long as they do so uniformly.
  • Currently the ordinance requires specific sign and label information – some of which is unnecessary, redundant, or confusing for today’s consumers.  The new update allows more flexibility in shelf labels and signage – a flexibility that is needed as retailers move to electronic shelf labels and computerized consumer information kiosks in their stores.
  • The changes go into effect on May 12, 2011.



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