Major Retailers Are Being Accused Of Illegal COVID-19 Price Gouging — Including For Essential Goods

A number of major retailers have been accused of price-gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic, with sellers such as Albertsons, Amazon, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Costco facing class action lawsuits alleging price gouging on canned goods, basic foods, sanitizer, toilet paper, and other high-demand items.

These companies allegedly engaged in price gouging for essential items despite gubernatorial and municipal executive orders and regulations declaring that no person or entity is permitted to raise the price of essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.  For example, California Governor Newsom’s April 3, 2020 Executive Order to Protect Consumers from Price Gouging  “generally prohibits sellers of any kind from increasing prices on food, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and certain other items by more than 10 percent.”

New York City has similar rules in place.  On July 14, 2020, the City announced a similar 10 percent premium, beyond which retailers could be engaged in illegal price gouging.  The New York City rule specified the following products:

  • Cleaning products
  • Diagnostic products and services
  • Disinfectants (wipes, liquids, sprays)
  • Face masks
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Medicines
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soap
  • Tissues

Attorneys at Finkelstein, Blankinship, Frei-Pearson & Garber, LLP have successfully recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of consumers.  If you or someone you know has been impacted by price gouging by a major retailer, please contact us to discuss your legal options.