A fair trade law
was a statute
that permitted manufacturers the right to specify the minimum retail price of a commodity, a practice known as "price maintenance
". They first appeared in 1931 during the Great Depression
in the state of California
. They were ostensibly intended to protect small businesses to some degree from the competitions of the very large chain stores during a time when small businesses were suffering. Many people objected to this on the grounds that if the manufacturers could set the price, consumers would have to pay more even at large discount stores. The complexity of the market also made the enforcement of these laws almost impractical. As the chain stores became more popular, and bargain prices more common, there was a wide-spread repeal of the laws in many jurisdictions. In 1975, the laws were repealed completely.
- Factmonster article
- Britannica article