Mayor Giuliani and opponents of the city’s megastore plan yesterday accused each other of failing to talk turkey on Thanksgiving food prices.
Merchants fighting the plan said the city Department of Consumer Affairs used bogus prices for a survey that found New Yorkers would save 30% on Thanksgiving fixings if they shopped in a food superstore instead of small, neighborhood markets.
The survey, released by Giuliani on Sunday, showed a basket of seven holiday food items cost $23.25 in small city markets — compared with $18.96 in a suburban supermarket and $18.27 in a city food superstore.
“The price of not only turkeys but all of the items that are in the Thanksgiving basket at independent supermarkets in the City of New York are substantially lower than the mayor’s press release would indicate,” said Howard Tisch, president of the Metropolitan Food Council.
Giuliani, however, claimed the survey prodded city grocers to slash prices by up to 16% since Sunday.
“Finally, these places were exposed for gouging people in New York City, and what happened is some of them reduced their prices,” Giuliani said.
“For the mayor to claim that he has reduced the prices further would require a feat of legerdemain that no wizard could ever perform,” shot back Tisch, who insisted the prices were set two weeks ago and haven’t changed.
The dispute escalated the fight over Giuliani’s plan to allow megastores of up to 200,000 square feet in manufacturing zones without approval by community boards or the City Council. Forcing stores to undergo time-consuming zoning and community reviews discourage developers from locating in the city, administration officials say.
City Council members, who are expected to vote on the issue next month, have said they will reject the plan unless megastores are subject to some reviews.
Original Story Date: 11/27/96