On Feb. 10, toy manufacturers and retailers are required to stop selling any products that don't meet the new lead standards established by Congress in August 2008 — and many businesses, particularly small- to medium-sized companies, are expressing concern that meeting the Feb. deadline might be then end of their business. (Large companies such as Target and Wal-Mart turn over inventory fast enough that they were able to begin implementing the new standards earlier this year.)
In the face of the deadline, smaller companies can either hope to sell through their current inventories before Feb. 10, or pay to have current inventories tested, at potentially detrimental financial cost. Penalties for violating the new regulations can be up to $100,000 per infraction.
No one seems to be arguing the validity of the standard itself, but rather requesting that the new lead standard not be applied to products made before the standard was set. Some companies would like to be able to sell inventory produced prior to the deadline until it's gone, then replenish stocks with approved products.
While I'm sympathetic to the potential trouble that the deadline might cause for these companies, particularly when paired with sales that are already down because of the current economic situation, it's difficult after last year's scares to be anything but excited — and adament — about the tighter regulation. Plus, the February deadline will allow the vendors to sell their current inventories through the holiday and post-holiday shopping seasons, presumably the biggest sales period for a toy company, relative to the rest of the year.
What do you think? Should toy manufacturers and retailers be allowed to sell through untested inventory purchased prior to Feb. 10? Is the risk too great? Will the date of the deadline, falling after holiday shopping and gift exchanges, effect which products you buy this year?
Read the full Wall Street Journal article, Vendors Urge Relaxed Lead-Safety Rules.
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