A woman holds a Barbie doll at 'Barbie: The Dreamhouse Experience' on April 12, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
Timur Emek/Getty

Big retailers price black, white Barbies differently

Why are black Barbies priced differently than white Barbies?

It’s a tough question and one that some of America’s biggest retailers are having to answer amid the biggest shopping time of the year.

For example, Tuesday afternoon Wal-Mart’s website listed an African-American ice skater Barbie for $11.87 while the Caucasian version costs just $9.88.

The retailing giant said the pricing discrepancy was an unintended error.

“They should always be the same price, across all ethnicities,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said Tuesday evening. “This is just a pricing error. We corrected it immediately.”

In fact, the retailer vowed to make up the price difference with a gift card for any customer who purchased the more expensive African-American doll. The spokesman said he didn’t know how long the prices had been different or how many shoppers might have purchased them at the wrong prices.

This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart’s website has gotten it into hot water. Before Halloween, the company listed ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ section online as a section. It removed it after the category sparked outrage.

Meanwhile, over at privately held Toys R Us, the same African-American Barbie skating doll was on sale for $10.99—less than the $14.99 price of the white Barbie.

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Toys R Us via CNBC

Toys R Us via CNBC