TORONTO — As fear spreads over the novel coronavirus, some consumers are stockpiling hand sanitizer, leading to empty shelves in Toronto. As a result, some third-party sellers online are jacking up sanitizer prices to 10 times or more the regular price.
At a Shopper’s Drug Mart in Scarborough the shelf which houses hand sanitizer products was almost empty. While CTV News Toronto was there, a woman scooped four more off the shelf to purchase.
“I want to be safe from the virus. I’m getting them to help protect my children,” she said.
At a nearby Fresh Co. grocery store, the shelf was already empty of hand sanitizer products.
You can still buy hand sanitizer products online, but some companies are hiking their prices dramatically leading to speculation of price gouging.
On Walmart Canada’s website the first product appears to be at its regular price but three one-ounce bottles of Purell are $45 and an eight-ounce bottle is $86 .
There are many bottles in the $150 to $200 range. One 2 litre bottle of Purell was selling for $268 and that was at a reduced price.
CTV News Toronto contacted Walmart Canada and Adam Grachnik, director of corporate affairs, said that the items are sold by a third-party seller on the marketplace website. “These third parties are solely responsible for the price and how the product is described,” Grachnik said.
Walmart does get referral fees which can be as high as 15 per cent for personal health products.
At Amazon.ca the situation is similar. We found a four pack of hand sanitizer for $140.
Using hand sanitizer is a good option to fight germs, but studies have shown that using soap and water is the best way to kill viruses and bacteria and remove germs from your hands.
While you may find it more difficult to find hand sanitizer products on the shelf, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from any viruses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
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