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Parent Company of Bloomingdale's/Macy's Pays Record Fine for Selling Flammable Children's Sleepwear, Will Implement Innovative Children's Sleepwear Program

Release Date: May 12, 2001

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Federated Department Stores, Inc. (Federated), of Cincinnati, Ohio, has agreed to pay an $850,000 civil penalty to settle CPSC charges that it knowingly sold flammable garments as children's sleepwear. In settling the matter, Federated denies the CPSC's charges. CPSC sets national safety standards for children's sleepwear flammability to protect children from serious burn injuries if they come in contact with a small flame. The CPSC charges that the garments sold by Federated did not meet federal safety standards, putting children at risk of serious burns.

Federated retail stores include Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Lazarus, Stern's, Rich's, Burdines, Goldsmith's and The Bon Marche. CPSC charges that on numerous occasions, from January 1999 through January 2000, Federated sold, offered for sale or imported about 600,000 loose- fitting, 100 percent, untreated cotton garments that were marketed, promoted or designed as children's sleepwear or robes. The garments were sold on racks in children's sleepwear departments/sections with or next to garments specifically labeled as sleepwear. Retail sales clerks told CPSC investigators that the garments were sleepwear.

"This is the largest fine in CPSC's history against a retailer for violating a federal law," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Children's safety is our number one priority, and we will not tolerate stores that knowingly sell garments that put children at risk of burn injuries."

In addition to paying the penalty, Federated intends to change the way it sells children's sleepwear. Federated will implement an innovative program that includes the following:

- Tag or sticker all children's sleepwear on the sales floor so that it is clearly and easily distinguished from playwear and underwear.

- Implement a comprehensive children's sleepwear training program for Federated employees.

"I welcome Federated's commitment," said Brown. "The simple concept of tagging sleepwear as sleepwear will prevent any confusion, as will a knowledgeable sales staff. This is the type of program all retailers should have. Selling safety profits stores and consumers."

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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