Business & Lobbying

Consumer brand group calls on Barr to protect from price gouging due to coronavirus


Consumer Brands Association (CBA) asked Attorney General William Barr to protect Americans from price gouging of consumer packaged goods due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In a letter on Monday, CBA executive vice president of public affairs Bryan Zumwalt wrote that the government has encouraged individuals to wash their hands and clean surfaces they touch, which require purchasing hand sanitizers, tissues, face masks and other products.

“Absent federal engagement, Consumer Brands fears that price gouging for consumer products — which has been on the rise in recent weeks — could have the severe adverse impact of preventing consumers from obtaining the preventative consumer products they need to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19,” the letter read.

He noted that some retailers have worked to ensure consumer access to products. But 24 percent of Americans have seen price gouging on high-demand items, according to CBA.

“There have been a number of reports in recent days of consumers being forced to pay exorbitant prices for basic preventative care products. For example, consumers have reported paying eight times the typical cost for disinfecting wipes, ten times the typical cost for hand sanitizer, and over twenty times the typical cost for facemasks,” the letter read.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans have personally experienced a supply shortage or purchasing restrictions on currently high-demand items, according to CBA.

CBA requests that the DOJ work with federal, state and industry partners to counteract price gouging. Pennsylvania and Texas attorneys general announced price gouging protections last week. 

There have been 22 deaths in the U.S. from the virus and at least 566 confirmed cases.

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