The CMA and various trade associations, including the NFRN, remain concerned that some retailers have been raising prices unfairly.
Although reports to the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) COVID-19 Taskforce have fallen since the early stages of the pandemic, the warning against hiking prices unjustifiably is aimed at the minority who are still seeking to profit from the coronavirus outbreak by raising prices. As the crisis develops, new types of products could be required by consumers on a large scale, and these may become the focus for unjustifiable price increases.
Joint statement from Competition and Markets Authority, alongside:
- Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN)
- Association of Convenience Stores
- Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies
- British Retail Consortium
- Chartered Trading Standards Institute
- Federation of Wholesale Distributors
- Scottish Wholesale Association
We remain concerned about the behaviour of a small number of businesses at this time. 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.
Based on evidence the CMA has received since it launched its Taskforce, the largest price increases, as well as the largest number of price complaints, concern hand sanitiser, with a median reported rise of just under 400%. The average reported increase across all reports, covering products such as paracetamol, flour, meat, toilet roll, rice and eggs is 160%.
If customers have been affected by price rises, they can report poor business behaviour to the CMA using its online form to report businesses. In addition the CMA urges retailers to report examples where prices are being raised because of increases in supplier costs through the same form.
The CMA is keeping all evidence it receives under review and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where there is evidence that the law has been broken.