Wesley Chapel, FL

Hand Sanitizer Drops to 25 Cents in Local Home Depot. Is This Evidence of COVID-19 Price Gouging?

Malinda Fusco

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COVID-19 has definitely brought out the worst in some people. Scams have popped up like crazy. Prices for everyday items went up, way up. If you tried to buy hand sanitizer at any point during the pandemic, you probably ran into one of two issues: either the store was out of it, or the prices were sky-high.

This article discusses my experience at a local home depot and analyzes if the dramatic price difference in their hand sanitizer is an example of price gouging or something else.

A True Story: $9.98 to 25 cents

Today, I went into a local home depot in Wesley Chapel, Florida and was shocked by what I saw. The price of a small hand sanitizer bottle was listed as previously $9.98 and was marked down to 25 cents.

My first thought was: "Wow if this isn't evidence of COVID-19 price gouging, I don't know what is."

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Obviously, the price marked down to 25 cents seems suspicious. First of all, I've never seen hand sanitizer marked so cheap before. Secondly, during COVID-19, when the world needed hand sanitizer the most...the price was nearly ten dollars for the same bottle. That's a 3900% increase!

But, the question is, why is the current price so low? And is this an actual example of corporate greed?

What is price gouging anyway?

So, what is price gouging? Is it when something is simply overpriced? Is it when theme parks sell you a bottle of water for five dollars when you know you can get a case of water for the same amount? Or is it something else?

Well, according to the Price Gouging Hotline, for something to be considered "price gouging," there are a few conditions that need to be met.

Florida Statute 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to rent, sell, lease, offer to rent, sell, or lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities at an unconscionable price.

Why was the price so low?

Honestly, lots of factors can drive prices. The demand for hand sanitizer is now lower now that people are vaccinated, and the fear of COVID is lessening in our communities. Therefore, Home Depot probably had an overstock of the product and needs to get rid of it. Hence, the price reduction. But that's just one theory.

Though, it makes you wonder. If they can afford to price it at 25 cents now, why was that same small bottle nearly ten dollars before? Doesn't that seem a bit high to you? It does to me.

Do you think this could be seen as an example of price gouging?

Do you think that this dramatic price reduction is a potential example of price gouging by Home Depot? Or, do you think it's more innocent than that? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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