Hand sanitiser prices 400% on average during height of pandemic as CMA warns price gougers

Hand sanitiser prices shot up by and average of 400 per cent in the UK during lockdown according to a new report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA, which launched a COVID-19 taskforce to investigate and tackle price gouging, has released its third report on the issue, highlighting staggering rates of price inflation for essential items by retailers during the pandemic.

Based on thousands of complaints it has received since the task force was set up, the report revealed that the median price rise for hand sanitiser was a whopping 400 per cent, while paracetamol saw average prices jump 220 per cent.

Other high demand goods like flour, meat, toilet role, rice and eggs climbed an average of 160 per cent.

Pharmacies were found to have the highest average prices, seeing the price of a bottle of hand sanitiser jump from £1 in January to £5 in mid-March.

Multiples meanwhile managed to keep prices fairly flat, rising from £1 to just £1.40 over the same period.

READ MORE: 4 UK retailers under investigation for charging “excessive and unfair prices” for hand sanitiser

In a joint statement from the CMA, the British Retail Consortium, the Association of Convenience Stores and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, the group condemned the practice and threatened to take action where necessary.

“We remain concerned about the behaviour of a small number of businesses at this time,” the statement read.

“The vast majority have responded responsibly, but there is a minority who have not.

“Those who inflate prices to profit off the backs of their customers are adding to their distress at a time of particular vulnerability and may be severely damaging their own reputation.

“Consumers are likely to remember those businesses who attempted to profiteer and may well vote with their wallets once this crisis ends. For many businesses, the crisis could represent an opportunity to do the right thing, and as a result develop relationships with new customers.”

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