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Target dares to compare prices

Minneapolis — The price wars continue. Target has announced that it is filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota charging Kmart with perpetrating a nationwide false advertising campaign. Target stated that 74 percent of the advertised price comparisons of Kmart's "Dare to Compare" advertising is wrong, as found by an independent market research firm.

Kmart's Dare to Compare campaign uses in-store signs to promote Kmart's prices on different products and to compare those prices to those at other retailers, including Target. Target stated that it notified Kmart of the errors it found in Kmart's campaign, but Kmart continued to promote the "false" price comparisons. Target then retained Leo J. Shapiro and Associates, an independent market research firm, which surveyed 98 Kmart stores in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul for the audit. It found 553 errors on 622 Kmart signs referencing Target.

"An astounding number of the signs have the wrong Target price, regularly misstate Kmart's own prices and often make comparisons on items that the competing Target store does not even sell," said James Hale, executive vp and general counsel for Target. "These errors have occurred nationwide."

In a statement, Kmart said that it "remains committed to its 'Dare to Compare' pricing campaign and believes we offer competitive value on merchandise our customers use everyday. Market research shows significant gains in pricing perception for Kmart. More importantly, increases in transaction count and customer count show customer acceptance of an improved pricing and shopping environment at Kmart. It is unfortunate when a competitor has to resort to needless, costly litigation when they discover that they are falling behind in the retail arena."

The statement continued, "Kmart's 'Dare to Compare' program is, in fact, designed to reflect our respect for our customers. By providing comparative pricing, our store managers ensure that our customers can make informed purchase decisions. Under the 'Dare to Compare' program, prices on the same item are featured on our shelf along with a date of comparison and the amount saved.

"We believe in providing this valuable information to our shoppers to help them make well-informed purchases. Kmart will vigorously defend its right to continue to share competitive pricing information with our customers."

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