Convenience retailers are being urged to “name and shame” companies who are raising prices unfairly and taking advantage of consumers during the coronavirus outbreak.
A new Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) campaign is calling on retailers to report any instances to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has set up a new taskforce to tackle the problem.
The CMA said the taskforce had been created following a “substantial number of messages and calls” from members of the public, complaining about businesses which were taking advantage of people “by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about their products”.
Commenting on its new campaign, ACS chief executive James Lowman said it was vital that the reputation of hard-working convenience retailers did not become “tarnished” by rogue businesses.
“Convenience stores have really stepped up to the plate over the last few weeks, offering new services like home delivery, looking after the most isolated and vulnerable customers, and being quick to respond to social distancing guidelines so that customers and colleagues feel safe when shopping and working,” he said.
“By going the extra mile, retailers and their colleagues have bolstered the reputation of the local convenience store and reinforced the message that it is at the heart the community.
“This reputation must not be allowed to be tarnished by a handful of rogue businesses that are trying to profiteer on the back of wider uncertainty.
“We encourage anyone who sees this taking place to report it to the CMA, who are watching very closely and intend to take action.”
CMA senior director Will Hayter added: “We welcome the call from the ACS for its members to report unfair business practices to our taskforce.
“While the vast majority of businesses are working hard to support communities across the UK, we will do whatever is required, within our powers, to stop those who might try to use the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit people.”
The ACS campaign also highlights to customers some of the issues that retailers are facing with supply during the outbreak and asks customers to be understanding when some price rises and increased sourcing costs have to be passed on.
The business complaint service is available here.
All coronavirus advice is available on Convenience Store’s Shopsafe page here.