Hobby Lobby and the Dangers of the Perpetual Sale
When is a sale not a good thing? When it is never-ending, according to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned and identified craft store at the heart of an ongoing Supreme Court challenge about exemptions in the workplace based on religious freedom, found itself in the crosshairs of a New York State investigation for running sales that extended beyond 52 weeks. Those sales breached the state's false advertising regulations, according to Schneiderman, whose office announced a settlement of more than $200,000 with the Oklahoma-based chain on Thursday.
Here's what the AG's office had to say in a statement:
The investigation began in 2013, when Attorney General Schneiderman’s office began tracking marketing materials advertising 50 percent off and 30 percent off sales. Hobby Lobby advertised its custom framing, furniture, and home décor products as sale items for more than 52 consecutive weeks.
As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to alter its advertising practices within 60 days. It will also donate $138,600 in supply gift cards to 700 public schools near Hobby Lobby stores, and pay $85,000 in civil penalties and related costs, Schneiderman's office said.
Hobby Lobby has 14 locations in New York. At the heart of its Supreme Court case are the rights of businesses to exempt themselves from offering health care coverage on religoius grounds, if it includes care like birth control. The justices are expected to rule some time this summer.