Coronavirus Price Gouging: These 16 Products Show Amazon’s Crazy Price Spikes
April 10, 2020
If you’ve bought anything on Amazon lately, you may have noticed it was a little (or a lot!) pricier than it was last month.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon prices are spiking as nervous consumers continue to hoard supplies. Supply chains are struggling to keep up with this demand and retain healthy employees. Some products - especially household items and groceries - are selling at 2x, 3x and even 4x their normal prices.
Customers are calling this “price gouging” while sellers are reporting the price increases are necessary to cover rising procurement costs.
Well...both. Let’s just say it’s a little complicated.
What is price gouging anyway?
Price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods to a higher level than is commonly considered “reasonable or fair”. The problem is, nobody (including Amazon) has defined exactly what this means. Here is the company’s official Fair Pricing Policy:
Sellers are responsible for setting their own prices on Amazon marketplaces. In our mission to be Earth's most customer-centric company, Amazon strives to provide our customers with the largest selection at the lowest price, and with the fastest delivery as sellers play an important role.
Amazon regularly monitors the prices of items on our marketplaces, including shipping costs, and compares them with other prices available to our customers. If we see pricing practices on a marketplace offer that harms customer trust, Amazon can remove the Buy Box, remove the offer, suspend the ship option, or, in serious or repeated cases, suspending or terminating selling privileges.
Pricing practices that harm customer trust include, but are not limited to:
- Setting a reference price on a product or service that misleads customers;
- Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon; or
- Selling multiple units of a product for more per unit than that of a single unit of the same product.
- Setting a shipping fee on a product that is excessive. Amazon considers current public carrier rates, reasonable handling charges, as well as buyer perception when determining whether a shipping price violated our fair pricing policy.
Generally, Amazon only strictly enforces this policy with emergency essentials, but they have recently started expanding this to a concourse of other products too. In addition to taking down more than 3,000,000 listings involving hand sanitizer, medical masks and sanitary wipes, they are actively sending price gouging warnings and policy violations for grocery items, gardening supplies, medicine etc.
Here’s an example: At the start of February, a 10-pack of N95 masks was selling for more than $100 (versus $40 normally) according to data from Reuters. A pack of respirators was selling at $25 (versus $7 normally). In a single day in March, every single one of these listings was removed from Amazon’s catalog, minus brands they carried themselves.
“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, citing the fact that Amazon can take down offers that hurt customer trust.
What does this mean for sellers?
Determining if your Amazon pricing is too high
To avoid a painful (and costly) Amazon suspension, here are a few guidelines to follow. Please note that these specific recommendations are specific to Covid-19, but the general idea applies in any situation where there is a national shortage of products.
Do not sell essentials on Amazon during a national emergency, even products you may have regularly carried for years. This includes any products that are essential for health and human well-being or those that have a shortage at a national level:
- Face masks
- Sanitizing wipes
- Personal protective equipment
- Toilet Paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Lysol products
- Disinfecting products
For all other non-urgent items, the rule of thumb is to stay within 20% of the highest Amazon price in the past 3 months. You can find the 20% range for specific products using price charts within Supply Spy’s product search tool.
1. Open the ProfitGuru dashboard and click products on the left-hand menu. Paste the specific ASIN you’d like to search for in the ASIN filter field at the top of the page.
2. Click the View Historical Data button
3. The red line on the chart indicates the price fluctuations for the product during the past year. Look for any price spikes within the past three months and adjust your own pricing accordingly.
Price Spikes Across Amazon
We’ve compiled 15 products that have had major price spikes on Amazon in the past two months. Please note that we are NOT suggesting you buy these specific products. This is purely for illustrative purposes as some of these products are restricted and/or essentials as listed above.
This list may help you find secondary products. For example, even though hand sanitizer is restricted, Amazon customers are buying essential oils to make their own sanitizer at home. Medical masks are off-limits, but the bandana market is having a huge spike as people search for alternatives.
Without further ado, here are 15 products that are either facing a huge demand spike or selling out completely in April:
“No one wants to be caught unprepared in a disaster. Augason Farms Deluxe 30-Day Emergency Food Supply helps eliminate the risks of poor nutrition during unexpected disastrous events. This 30-day survival kit combines flavor and nutrition at an affordable price. This 30-day survival kit includes 11 varieties of mouthwatering foods totaling 37,080 calories. Broken down, that is 1,236 calories per day which meets most national health organization’s average recommended daily caloric intake. Unlike other survival food brands that offer empty calories, Augason Farms emergency foods offer nutritious calories so you can have confidence in surviving even the toughest challenging situations.”
Price Feb. 1st: $70.89
Price March 1st: $248+
Price April 1st: Out of Stock
Zep Antibacterial Disinfectant & Cleaner with Lemon has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 novel coronavirus-Wuhan on hard non-porous surfaces. When used in accordance with the directions, it can also be used against Human Rotavirus, Rhinovirus Type 39, Hepatitis A virus, Poliovirus Type 1, and Canine Parvoviurs on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Price Feb. 1st: $35.88
Price March 1st: $46.17
Price April 1st: Out of Stock
Tyvek protective apparel combines durability with comfort, making it extremely versatile. From painting to composites, agriculture to crime scene investigation, Tyvek offers a range of protective apparel to meet safety needs.
Price Feb. 1st: $7.47
Price March 1st: $17.45
Price April 1st: $22.04
Lysol disinfecting spray helps protect families and helps keep them healthy. The products are designed to provide germ protection and can kill 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria on hard surfaces, when used as directed.
Price Feb. 1st: $10.71
Price March 1st: $26.99
Increase: Out of stock
Hard on germs, gentle on hands. Purell products can be used throughout the day to help provide protection against the spread of germs.
Price Feb. 1st: $8.85
Price March 1st: $39.99
April 1st: Out of stock
6. Bath and Body Works Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel 20-Pack PocketBac Sanitizers, Assorted Scents, 1 fl oz each
Need moisturized, germ-free hands on-the-go? No problem! Enriched with shea extract, vitamin E, 68% alcohol and aloe, Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers kill 99.9% of most common germs and keep your hands clean and soft. Bonus: they come in a ton of year-round and seasonal scents to leave your hands lightly fragranced.
Price Feb. 1st: $35.95
Price March 1st: $74.99
April 1st: Out of stock
The North by honeywell 7700 Series Half Mask is the most comfortable half mask available. Made from 100% silicone for superior fit, durability and comfort. The improved cradle suspension system sits securely on the head, and provides an even seal without pressure points.
Price Feb. 1st: $22.99
Price March 1st: $42.16
Price April 1st: Out of stock
This purified, mineral-enriched bottled water comes in a convenient 45-bottle pack. Keep a pack of refreshing bottled water on hand in your home or stock up for your next big event. The 16.9-Ounce Bottles are also ideal for concession stands, convenience stores and vending machines.
Price Feb. 1st: $17.83
Price March 1st: $18.85
Price April 1st: $39.98
Each kit contains enough emergency supplies to sustain two people for three days, as recommended by the American Red Cross. There's food, water, and emergency blankets, plus a 33-piece First Aid kit, two 12-hour safety light sticks, dust masks, nitrile gloves, and an emergency whistle. Each kit also contains emergency ponchos and pocket tissues. The kit, in a handy backpack, can be stored at home, at school, or at the office.
Price Feb. 1st: $40.00
Price March 1st: $50.88
Price April 1st: $77.99
10. Survival Garden 15,000 Non GMO Heirloom Vegetable Seeds Survival Garden 32 Variety Pack by Open Seed Vault
It contains 32 Varieties of All Natural Vegetable Seeds: Non-hybrid, Non-GMO, Heirloom 100% naturally grown and open-pollinated seeds with high germination rate.
Price Feb. 1st: $17.99
Price March 1st: $29.95
Price April 1st: $54.99
32 Varieties of All Natural Vegetable Seeds: Non-hybrid, Non-gmo, Heirloom
100% Naturally Grown and Open Pollinated seeds with high Germination Rate
11. Brandzig Sterile Alcohol Prep Pads (300-Pack) | Thick 2-Ply Antiseptic/Sanitizing Isopropyl Medical Wipes | Individually Wrapped Alcohol Cleansing Swabs for Antibacterial Protection, Diabetic Supplies
The perfect choice for disinfecting skin before an injection or measurement, these Brandzig Sterile Alcohol Prep Pads are 2-ply, fully antiseptic and saturated with alcohol. Each pad measures 2” x 2” in size, gamma-treated for sterility to ensure safe and effective use.
Price Feb. 1st: $6.50
Price March 1st: $19.99
Price April 1st: Out of Stock
99% (anhydrous-grade) concentration has 0% water, and 0% additional additives
Designed for use in industrial, commercial, medical, cosmetic, automotive, electronic, pet care, horticulture, and laboratory applications.
Price Feb. 1st: $28.99
Price March 1st: $43.99
Increase: Out of Stock
13. NOW Supplements, Vitamin C-1,000 with Rose Hips, Sustained Release, Antioxidant Protection*, 250 Tablets
NOW Vitamin C-1000 is specially formulated to provide a sustained release of vitamin C and includes rose hips as an added source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient well known for its vital role in the immune system.
Price Feb. 1st: $15.10
Price March 1st: $14.13
Price April 1: $51.12
Cold-EEZE zinc lozenges can shorten a cold by 42% when taken at the first sign of symptoms and used as directed. Cold-EEZE is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended zinc lozenge brand. The homeopathic cold remedy is made with a distinct zinc gluconate formula, the active ingredient in Cold-EEZE.
Price Feb. 1st: $4.99
Price March 1st: Out of Stock
Price April 1: $29.99
Price Feb. 1st: $15.32
Price March 1st: $34.76
Price April 1: Out of Stock
Simple Green d Pro 5 is a one-step disinfectant that has a high level of active ingredients for heightened efficacy and economy, and because it has no added color or scent - and carries a USDA rating for sanitizing, it can be used in food production, processing, and service facilities.
That’s a wrap
If anything, let the above list serve as a reminder that Amazon selling isn’t dead. Even though most FBA items are currently restricted, there is still a HUGE amount of opportunity to find in-demand products.
Here are few last-minute tips to keep your inventory priced right:
- If you use a repricer to set “maximum price” to avoid accidental price gouging when other sellers go out of stock.
- Pay attention to the news. If you have an item that is suddenly in-demand by hospitals or medical professionals, it’s best to pull it and stay safe.
- Respond to all customer questions, complaints and refund requests quickly..
- If you get a policy notice or warning for an item, reply to it immediately or pull the item. If you have enough of these notices build up, it will result in an automatic suspension.
Questions? Comments? Drop me a message at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to answer anything you throw at me.