Shops accused of 500% mark-up on coronavirus face masks

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SHOPS have been accused of ‘cashing in’ on the coronavirus crisis by selling face masks with a 500 per cent mark-up.

It comes as face coverings are set to become compulsory in shops tomorrow, July 24, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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A manufacturer has found that one retailer – Boots – has applied a 5x mark-up on masks.

A 50-pack of Type 1 three-ply disposable masks sells for £30 on Boots’ website, which works out at 60p a mask.

However, manufacturer Lyncmed Medical Group sells them for just 12p per mask, according to Mask Bros.

Boots defended the cost and says it it has “benchmarked” its pricing to remain competitive.

As part of their business model shops will buy items at a “market” price and then charge more for the item once they’ve factored in their operating and profit costs.

In comparison, Mask Bros is selling a a 50-pack of Type IIR masks for £24.99 plus an added £3.99 for delivery, working out as £28.98 or 58p per mask.

Meanwhile, Boots’ face masks cost £30, including a delivery fee.

Rival Superdrug charges a similar £29.99 including delivery for a 50-pack of Type I masks.

LloydsPharmacy also charges £29.99 for a pack of 50 Type IIR masks, plus a £3.95 delivery fee, while Argos employs the same pricing strategy for 50 Type II masks.

Both these pricing models work out as 68p per mask, including delivery.

It’s not yet clear how much the retailers paid the manufacturers for these items.

Mr Filz van Reiterdank of Mask Bros said: “It is of course easy to call a company a price gouger solely by looking at their prices even though there are many factors that play into pricing – the larger a retailer, the more important supply reliability is which creates a premium on price.”

A spokesperson for Boots said: “We currently sell a wide range of quality disposable and reusable face masks in store and on boots.com.

“We have benchmarked our pricing to ensure we remain fair but competitive and will continue to review this.

“Our masks are amongst the most affordable on the high street.

“With the government guidance changing on Friday, today we are offering our customers 25 percent off select disposable face masks, with masks costing as little as 37p per mask.”

It’s not the first time retailers have been accused on price gouging during the pandemic.

In May, Marks and Spencer were accused of ripping-off customers with £11.50-a-bottle hand sanitiser.

While parents face “rip-off” prices as firms charge TEN TIMES more for kids’ face masks than adult ones.

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