RETAIL TRADE: Retreat of the Fair Traders

Defeat after defeat in the U.S. marketplace and in the courts rocked fair-trade pricing during the last year. Last week, fair-trade's retreat seemed about to turn into a rout.

The biggest blow came when the W. A.

Sheaffer Pen Co. gave up its long fight for price fixing, announced that it would sell to certain "large-volume retail outlets," i.e., discount houses. To police its prices, Sheaffer spent $2 million over the past two years and lopped off some 700 dealers.

But the cost was high; sales for the fiscal first half ending Aug. 31, 1955 were down 9.5% from 1954's comparable period,...

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