Four UK pharmacies and convenience stores are being investigated for charging “excessive and unfair prices” for hand sanitiser after receiving thousands of complaints.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is investigating four retailers, which it has not yet identified, over price gouging concerns.
It said that its probe into profiteering on hand sanitiser, which has seen demand skyrocket since the start of the pandemic, was still “at an early stage and no assumptions should be made that competition law had been infringed.
“The CMA has not reached a view on whether there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of competition law for it to issue a statement of objections to any of the parties under investigation,” it added.
While the CMA reportedly contacted 264 companies regarding price gouging in relation to over 3100 complaints, it has struggled to take action against any bad actors due to restrictions in its powers.
Last week the CMA’s chairman and Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie resigned from his position citing “inherent limits” in what the CMA can do.
The watchdog has also called on the government to grant it emergency time-limited legislation to effectively tackle price gougers.
Between March 10 and May 17, the CMA was contacted over 60,000 times regarding unfair practices during the pandemic, while the average price jump for hand sanitiser was a whopping 367 per cent.
This comes as UK pharmacy giants Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy have been accused of profiteering by placing “excessive markups” on face masks.