Why Increasing Prices of Items Is Dangerous During Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus has created helpless situation for many in the United States. Doctors don't yet have a definite treatment for Covid-19. People are panicking about both Covid-19 and shelter-in-place for which they are buying essential items in bulk. If you are a business wanting to take advantage of this by increasing their prices think twice. It is highly dangerous right now.

Under the scanner of consumers, journalists and states:

  • Brick-and-mortar stores
  • Online stores including marketplaces
  • Third party sellers
Price Gouging Penalties and Evolution

Right now if you raise prices of certain essential items you may get hit by penalties. When emergency is declared or some kind of disaster takes place your such act is considered price gouging and that falls under unfair or deceptive trade practices. If you are caught you may attract civil and criminal penalities.

As of now, atleast 16 states have no anti price gouging law. In some states, it is applied to only petroleum-related business. Rest of the states do not follow one single law, but there seems to be an evolution taking place in how and who will crack it down.

Consider the screenshots below. They provide all the answers. Texas does have anti price gouging law and still their attorney general wants to aggressively prosecute those who break it. States are irritated as they get more complaints about the deceptive practice from consumers. Ohio may soon enact anti price gouging law. Colorado is not doing the same, but they will still go after the culprits. New York does have one, yet their governor is telling federal government to step in.
How does the crackdown look?
Brick and mortar stores may get a visit from cops followed by a slape of fine as shown below by mayor of Jersey City.The store here was fined $90,000 in a single day.
Attorney General of New York talks here about sending hundreds of cease and desist letters to sellers.

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