Editor’s Note: Major retailers continue to act as consumer watchdogs

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Editor’s Note: Major retailers continue to act as consumer watchdogs

By Seth Mendelson - 10/31/2019

With no one else apparently ready to step up, it increasingly is becoming clear that the nation’s retailers are taking a more active role in serving as a watchdog for consumers on products and social issues. 

In late September, CVS Pharmacy suspended selling Zantac and its own ranitidine house brand following a recent product alert from the Food and Drug Administration that these products might contain a low level of a probable human carcinogen. The company said it was going to err on the side of caution as it waits for more tests to be conducted on these products and for more information from the FDA. 

Other retailers have since joined in, suspending sales of these products to protect their customers.

About a month ago, Walmart said it was going to stop selling certain types of guns and ammunition, a move welcomed here and by many industry officials as necessary to combat the growing menace of gun violence across the country. And, over the last few years, more major retailers, including CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmart, have taken steps to offer their customers healthcare services that were previously only available at medical offices or hospitals. These benefits often can offer customers faster service at a lower rate. 

While it is clear each retailer sees an opportunity to grow sales and profits from these services, many observers said that they also lower the price of health care at a time when more and more consumers cannot afford the spiraling cost of maintaining health services. 

All of these things point to the simple fact that with the government — on the state and federal levels — failing to take the initiative, someone else, specifically private industry, must step up to the plate. In recent months, it seems that a number of key retailers correctly have decided that this will be part of their role. 

In the future, more and more issues are bound to pop up where retailers will serve as the watchdog for consumer concerns. We can only hope that the retail community continues to stay at the forefront of these issues and take the right steps that will not only benefit their customers, but their own business practices as well. 

Remember that having the consumer look to a retail operation as their guardians is very much a good thing, too. 

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