Coronavirus: CMA warns retailers against putting up prices
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.