Derby

Derby shops 'profiteering' during coronavirus crisis

Still from Ajit Atwal's Twitter video Image copyright Ajit Atwal
Image caption Ajit Atwal said some businesses were "trying to make a quick buck out of people who don't have it"

Some shopkeepers have been accused of "scandalous" profiteering during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ajit Atwal, a Derby city councillor, said he had seen some shops radically increase prices on hand sanitisers, medicines and other products.

A video he posted on social media warning he would "name and shame" offenders has been watched hundreds of thousands of times.

The Federation of Small Businesses also said the behaviour was "inexcusable".

Last week a West Midlands-based pharmacy chain was heavily criticised after it was caught charging about three times its usual price for Calpol.

Mr Atwal said "a handful" of shopkeepers in Derby had been charging four times the normal amount for products such as rice, toilet roll and baby milk.

"It's bang out of order," he said.

"They're trying to make a quick buck out of people who don't have it."

He warned businesses in the city he would report them to Trading Standards once the coronavirus crisis subsided.

Derby City Council said its Trading Standards officers did not have any powers to tackle price hikes.

Image copyright Majid Mahmood
Image caption A branch of West Midlands-based chain Jhoots was criticised for selling Calpol at "extortionate" prices

Mr Atwal said he had not increased charges at his own petrol station: "If anything I have put my prices down."

He said national chains and supermarkets had also avoided price rises.

He said shopkeepers who had raised prices should "do the right thing" and "stop ripping off" residents.

"That's all I'm asking for - a bit of respect, a bit of humanity, and a bit of grace, nothing more."

'Support communities'

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said prices may rise if suppliers charged shops more due to "spikes in demand and shocks to supply".

However, he said there was a difference between these "necessary, often small, price adjustments" and "unethical opportunism".

"Everybody needs access to basic necessities like food and toilet rolls, and unfairly ramping up prices, hurting the most vulnerable at a time where they need our help most, is inexcusable," he said.

"We're living in unprecedented times and businesses should not be trying to make a quick penny by preying on people during a crisis.

"However, it is important to note that the vast majority of businesses are keen to do the right thing and support the communities in the best way they can."

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites