Some Philadelphia Supermarkets Charging Customers the Soda Tax Early - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Some Philadelphia Supermarkets Charging Customers the Soda Tax Early

The 1.5-cents per ounce tax is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, but at least one major supermarket chain is already asking customers to pony up the extra cash



    Philadelphia's new tax on sugary drinks doesn't go into effect until New Year's Day 2017, but at least one supermarket chain, ACME, started charging customers the higher prices two days early. (Published Friday, Dec. 30, 2016)

    Some Philadelphia residents are already experiencing sticker shock from the soon-to-be enacted soda tax.

    ACME Supermarkets began tacking on the 1.5 cents per ounce increase on sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks and sweetened teas two days before the tariff is set to take effect.

    A 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola that cost $1.49 at the supermarket's Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania location is 57-cents more expensive at the Roxborough store inside city limits.

    The reason for the early change? Advertising.

    ACME spokeswoman Danielle D'Elia said the chain's weekly ads run Friday through Thursday and that they couldn't later charge more for an advertised lower price.

    "In the spirit of price integrity, we had an obligation to tell our customers what the accurate price will be for those impacted items from Jan. 1 forward," D'Elia said in an email to NBC10.

    Of course, retailers have no obligation at all to pass the new cost on to their customers.

    NBC10 has reached out to other supermarket chains operating in the city to see if they are charging customers for the tax early. We have yet to hear back.

    A contentious battle has been waged over the tax, which is one of the first in the nation. The beverage lobby undertook an expensive advertising campaign to try and defeat the tax. When the tax was approved, they then sued the city. That lawsuit was dismissed earlier this month.

    City officials expect the tax to generate $90 million in new revenue. The funds are earmarked to help fund Mayor Jim Kenney's ambitious universal Pre-K program along with capital improvements at city recreation centers.

    A poll conducted this summer by the Pew Research Center found a majority of city residents -- 54 percent of those surveyed -- support the tax, but it seems not everyone was ready to pony up the extra dough.

    Terese Eibell Lewis said three 12 packs of soda cost her nearly $20 at the Rhawnhurst ACME along the 8200 block of Roosevelt Boulevard on Friday.

    "When I pointed out to a worker that the tax did not take effect until Jan. 1, I was told they did it to take advantage of the New Year Eve's rush," she said, adding it was "outrageous."

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