Regional retailer Meijer has dropped the price of their 16 GB iPad 2 by $70, fueling speculation that the iPad 3 launch is nearing.

AppleInsider noticed that Meijer put the 16GB iPad 2 in their weekly sales flyer, at a price of $429, for the week of February 12-18. However, Meijer’s website says the sale is good until February 25 – and that it’s only available in stores. Meijer is based in Michigan, but also has stores in nearby states. The flyer says the deal is only good while supplies last.

Speculation has been rampant over the last week that Apple is preparing to launch the iPad 3. The suspected launch date is the first week of March. The $70 discount that Meijer is offering is one of the largest discounts on the iPad 2 to date. Are they attempting to reduce their inventory before the iPad 3 comes out? Apple is very tightlipped and it’s unlikely they would spill the beans to Meijer. Or that Meijer would act on it if they did know ahead of time, as they would be sworn to secrecy. Perhaps they are buying into the speculation as well?

A look at other major Apple retailers does not indicate any other movement on iPad 2 prices. Best Buy’s iPad 2 is still $499. Same at Target, Walmart, Sears, RadioShack, and others. But perhaps we will see the competition increase as we get closer to the suspected launch date.