Last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s emotions were running high during a press conference when he was asked about a Toronto grocery chain charging $29.99 for a package of disinfectant wipes that is normally $5.
“Nothing gets me more furious than someone taking advantage and price gouging the public that are in desperate need of these items,” Ford responded at the time.
To the government’s credit, it moved swiftly, issuing an emergency order on Saturday to ban price gouging on cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, non-prescription medications, and hygiene products like soap. It’s unfortunate that it took a government order to ensure this does not happen.
In our community, we are fortunate that businesses here have not taken to price gouging. In fact, many of the local businesses that have been able to stay open have been going the extra mile to make sure its customers are well served.
Yes, some items may be more expensive than people may be used to paying. Items that before may have been bought on-sale or outside of the community, are now bought locally. Some items may not be on sale when you need them. To keep products available for everyone, we cannot stock up in the stores when there is a good deal. Driving to the big city to save a few dollars is not possible right now. It isn’t even safe to do.
Being a smaller community, price competitiveness isn’t always as important than just having the item in stock.
Local retailers, who are able to remain open, are doing their best. When there has been a shortage of product from their normal supply chains, many businesses have gone to other sources to make sure it is here where, and when, we need it. That does cost more. Make no mistake, recouping a legitimate business cost is not price gouging. Charging a 500 per cent markup, like the grocery chain in Toronto did, is price gouging.
Thank you to the local businesses who have been doing all they can to keep up with demand. Keeping the doors open isn’t easy in this difficult time, and the effort is understood and appreciated by the community.