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From the Seattle Times this weekend:

"As antitrust scrutiny of Amazon mounts, the retail behemoth has been pressuring some of its top sellers to drop prices to ensure shoppers cannot find a lower price anywhere else — online or in a brick-and-mortar store.

"Since early this year, Amazon has been telling some of the largest third-party sellers on its Marketplace platform they can’t list new products until they match prices offered by Amazon’s retail competitors, like Walmart, Target and Costco, according to copies of emails between seven sellers and Amazon seen by the Seattle Times.

"Amazon’s threats may add fuel to arguments that the company’s control over its Marketplace platform violates federal antitrust laws. The tactic could also raise prices for consumers, according to interviews with employees and executives of some of the largest sellers on Amazon’s platform.

"The CEO of one seller whose ability to create new listings was suspended earlier this year said he believes Amazon’s pricing policy is anticompetitive, but, fearing retaliation, has not communicated those concerns to Amazon."  The story goes on to say that "sellers, antitrust attorneys and Amazon’s hometown congresswoman say the policy demonstrates how Amazon is increasingly exerting control over the activities of the businesses on its Marketplace."

KC's View:

Interesting, because on the one hand, if retailer A goes to a brand and says that it wants the same low prices as retailer B, and has the market power to make that stick, then most consumers would say that it's a good thing.

It becomes problematic, I guess, in part because Amazon is forcing low prices but then taking a larger cut of the sale, which makes the brands less profitable.

It is going to be interesting if, in the long run, Amazon faces greater regulation that results in its prices going up.  Which seems to be the potential eventuality that the Seattle Times is highlighting.