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Coronavirus: CMA warns retailers against putting up prices

CMA: Retailers should not "charge vastly inflated prices" during the coronavirus outbreak

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called on retailers to “behave responsibly” and not increase prices during the coronavirus outbreak.

The watchdog has kept an eye on reports of rices changing as the virus spreads, and wants to ensure that traders "do not exploit the current situation to take advantage of people, it said in a statement yesterday (March 5).

It will look out for evidence that companies have "broken competition or consumer protection law, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment” during the outbreak, it said.

The CMA will take “enforcement actions” when appropriate and might even consider advising the government to introduce price controls, it added.

“We urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices”, CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli said.

These rules may also apply to retailers reselling their good on online marketplaces, he added.

The CMA’s warning comes as Amazon told the news service Reuters last week (February 27) that it had removed “tens of thousands of deals” from its site as some merchants selling health-related products had increased prices.

The outbreak of coronavirus has seen patients flock to buy medical supplies. Several pharmacies have sold out of face masks and hand sanitiser, while others are limiting purchases of hand gel to two per person.

Have you heard of pharmacies putting up prices due to coronavirus?

David Holdsworth, Community pharmacist

How about CMA look at the hike in flight and holiday prices in school holiday dates. They allow this and yet give the warnings in article! No consistency.

Rajeshvari Patel, Community pharmacist

Why is it always down to the small businesses to take the hit from everywhere-- wholesalers have increased the price of 32 Paracetamols overnight and they are not reprimanded--we have to sell it at higher price as we too have to provide it at a reasonable price which make it look extortionate . We are already taking the hit on some generics when they do not go on the price concession list just to keep the patient and also not to interupt their treatment. When is someone going to address those issues? My local Londis next door has Paracetamol but my wholesalers have no stocks I can replenish once I run out--he also sells an unnamed , probably unlicensed hand sanitizer (which by the way doesn't mention how much alcohol in it) for £16 but I cannot get any from my whoelsalers--all 6 who I have accounts with. The mighty Alliance and AAH cannot obtain any supplies??????--or do they choose who to supply the stock to! What a ridiculous situation!!

Rahul Gogna, Community pharmacist

some places would be charging more than £200 for what is in that photo for this article...if the goods come in a higher price then they got sold at a higher price. patient still has a choice as to whether they want to pay for it or not.

R A, Community pharmacist

what I can't get my head around is why can't Amazon and Ebay set price for certain categories? Under normal supply and demand situation this wouldn't be appropriate. However if you have some selfish opportunistic people buying stocks from retail and plan on selling items at inflated price then this would act as a deterrant for such inappropriate behaviour. 

On Friday I went to my local Tesco and bought two packs of soap which is what I always purchase. As far as I am concerned if I hoard all the sanitary product and everyone cant use it then it would be counterproductive. Since everyone has to adopt hygiene protocol to make containment successful.  

Ronak Manek, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The CMA, MHRA both need to look into the wholesalers. Both pricing and availability of medicines and product and using this as a reason. It would be understandable to 'reasonable' ration the stock but to hike prices which leaves pharmacy not much chose but in terms of retail to increase, from a dispensing point report to psnc and hope it goes concession or dispense at a loss. Supermarkets can increase all they like and nothing is said - or can have deals which are legally not allowed like offer on 16s of paracetamols where some of the discount supermarkets have been selling multi buys!
Pharmacies just need to be reasonable and most like spent some time sourcing some of this items....

jignesh patel, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Perhaps they need to have a word with all the generics wholesalers and manufacturers.

C A, Community pharmacist

Have the CMA spoken to any of the supermarkets recently... their hand sanitiser price seems to have jumped through the roof.

C D, Community pharmacist

200 ml alcohol gel only currently available in my local convenience store as pharmacies all sold out. I picked up two of them. Price £35 EACH. I put them back.

1 Litre bottle of Vodka, same store. £12.99 and has duality of uses.

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

We sold ours at £1.50- are we mugs!!! (we own a post office)


Brent Cutler, Manager

Competition and Markets Authority need to get their head around bigger issues, there is plenty of them. Supply and demand dictates price, you only need to look on ebay and amazon to clearly see the public is buying the stock cheap from pharmacies and selling it on Ebay at highly inflated prices, the so called authorties they must think we are all thick.

P M, Community pharmacist

why is that everyone else is allowed to make a sh!t ton of cash, but us in healthcare have to work for peanuts..

thats just not right.. 

how about you pay what the retailer is asking or go without..

i want a aston martin , but their asking to much money.. cant the big poweful cma do something.. maybe charge a pound over cost price?



N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""by charging excessive prices"""

Any idea what is EXCESSIVE ?? If the manufacturer sells a product @ £4.99 now compared to £0.29 before the coronavirus outbreak and then the final price down the line (retail) becomes £15.99, then who is to blame?

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