NACS Joins Coalition to Combat Economic Discrimination

The Main Street Competition Coalition is committed to increasing competition in retail and consumer choice.

October 28, 2021

Main Street Competition Coalition

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS, along with nine organizations, have formed the Main Street Competition Coalition, a coalition of main street businesses and agriculture producers that are committed to promoting competition and reviving and reforming the Robinson-Patman Act, a law that prohibits economic discrimination but has not been enforced in more than 20 years. The coalition advocates for antitrust policies that ensure a level playing field for the benefit of both business and consumers.

The coalition is committed to increasing competition in retail and wholesale markets and giving consumers real choice. Price discrimination, channel discrimination and exclusionary conduct that dominant firms use to limit competition are illegal under existing laws like the Robinson-Patman Act.

The coalition has called on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via letter to reassert the goals of the Robinson-Patman Act to prohibit anticompetitive vertical conduct that restricts competition, harms agriculture producers and limits consumer choice.

“In recent decades, we have witnessed a handful of companies amass incredible power and influence at the expense of small and medium sized businesses and ultimately consumers. We urge the FTC to use its authority to investigate and bring enforcement actions against conduct that violates the Robinson-Patman Act,” the coalition said in the letter.

The coalition in the letter proposed that the FTC use enforcement actions against anticompetitive economic discrimination, study economic discrimination, investigate the arrangements between dominant retailers and suppliers, as well as investigate whether economic discrimination and buyer power have led to concentration throughout supply chains.

“Throughout the [pandemic], dominant companies have received preferential treatment in supply shortage scenarios, meaning they get access to critical goods and services that smaller firms do not. These shortages occur in the first place because concentration creates a lack of supply chain redundancy and resiliency. … As the Commission tackles competing priorities, it is essential that it does not overlook anticompetitive economic discrimination,” the letter states.