U.S. PIRG Education Fund
In February, as the novel coronavirus spread in the United States, Americans took precautionary measures like using more hand sanitizer, delaying travel and practicing social distancing. At that time, we were concerned that a spike in demand for protective products like masks and sanitizers, combined with peoples’ fear of the virus, would lead to price gouging. Our research then confirmed this suspicion, uncovering severe price gouging on Amazon, with over half of the hand sanitizers and masks we looked at seeing price spikes of at least 50%.
Six months later, U.S. PIRG Education Fund revisited whether Amazon had lived up to its promise of tackling price gouging. Our new analysis looked at 10 staple products found on many shopping lists during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and digital thermometers. Of these items, options from Amazon were two to fourteen times more expensive than the identical products sold at other retailers.