Matthew has been contacted by several constituents regarding concerns that some retailers are using the current coronavirus epidemic to increase the prices of essential items. Such actions are not only distasteful but also reprehensible, particularly when undertaken by trusted institutions.
One allegation Matthew received was that a chemist was selling hand sanitizers for £11.50 (or 3 for £30) for what appeared to be a 100ml sized bottle. The chemist concerned advised that due to the large increase in the demand for hand sanitizers, these products are currently in short supply. As a result, wholesalers and other suppliers have increased their prices and, as a consequence, retailers are increasing their prices in order to sell at a profit.
Matthew has therefore written to the Prime Minister to ask what action the Government is taking to ensure that suppliers and retailers are not permitted to exploit the current crisis to make a ‘quick profit’, and are not encouraging bulk buying of essential items by offering discounts.
Matthew said: “Having spoken to local health professional and retailers, I am reminded that if residents buy three bottles of hand sanitizer their own hands will be disinfected but they potentially restrict two further people from having clean hands, increasing the societal risk.
"Many business are suffering and need to keep a financial turnover but increasing prices in the short-term will not help longer-term sustainability. Retail supply chains can cope with ‘normal’ demand and the irony is that goods only become in short supply when people panic buy.
"Regrettably, businesses will suffer as a result of this virus but we will get through this terrible time and then the economy will need consumers who will use their purchasing power to extend their thanks to others who took the right decisions.”
Matthew has written to pharmacists and other independent traders in the Hendon constituency who will play a vital role during this epidemic, to point out that encouraging bulk buying of medicines and other goods is counter productive and pricing goods to offer discounts for bulk purchases can have a negative effect.
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