Amazon set prices of products during the COVID-19 pandemic to levels that would be considered violations of price gouging laws in many states. Amazon has misled the public, law enforcement, and policymakers about price increases during the pandemic.
As the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States in late February / early March 2020, reports of product shortages, hoarding, and massive price increases soon arose. And once the pandemic response moved from emergency declarations to stay-at-home orders, the public increasingly turned to online shopping and delivery. Amazon, which is by far the biggest online seller in the world, experienced a dramatic increase in revenue. But prices also spiked on Amazon, leading to accusations of price gouging on its online marketplace. Amazon responded by blaming the skyrocketing prices on unscrupulous third-parties that sell on its website. By taking a public stance against price gouging, Amazon portrayed itself as an unwitting victim.
But we have uncovered a pattern of significant price increases on essential products sold directly by Amazon, as well as price gouging by third-party sellers.
This report details 15 essential products that have been sold by Amazon during that COVID-19 pandemic with markups over the recent price on Amazon.com or other national retailers ranging from 76% to more than 1,000%, and 10 products sold on Amazon by third-party sellers during the same period with markups ranging from 225% to 941%. Notably, some state price gouging laws prohibit price increases of as little as 10%.