Warning issued to Wolverhampton shops over pricing concerns amid coronavirus
Warnings have been issued to shops across Wolverhampton as part of a crackdown on inflated prices due to coronavirus.
Trading Standards officers made the move after receiving a series of complaints about stores charging higher prices or handwash, sanitiser and toilet roll.
Paul Dosanjh, head of the department at Wolverhampton Council, said most traders had been acting responsibly – but stressed anyone caught would be dealt with "robustly".
He said: "Trading Standards is receiving complaints about businesses charging inflated prices on necessity products.
"Whilst traders are generally free to set their prices for items that are not price marked except by themselves, it is a criminal offence to charge a higher price for products that are clearly marked with a visible lower price.
"Officers have been contacting stores to issue warnings about this activity and we will continue with our investigations and deal with those traders that are breaking the law.
"Most traders are acting responsibly and providing a vital service to our community. But I am concerned that a small minority of traders may simply be taking advantage of the situation. We view profiteering as an aggressive practice and we will deal with it robustly.
"We understand retailers are going through a difficult time during the current situation, but customers need to be protected and not exploited."
It came after a pharmacy chain with outlets in the Black Country was slammed for changing the price of a pack of 32 paracetamol from its normal £1.20 per packet to £8.
Traders who are rising prices in the current situation may breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Customers have also complained about unfair price hikes on other products in short supply.
Anyone who spots inflated or dual pricing in their local shops can report it by sending details and any evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org