What sold-out coronavirus face masks teach about price-gouging

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, sales of medical face masks have spiked, especially since the government confirmed the first human-to-human transmission of the virus. 

Specifically, people are buying the N95 air filtration mask, the one recommended by the CDC for blocking most airborne viruses, Stephen Carter wrote in an opinion piece for Bloomberg

CVS, Staples and even Amazon are all sold out of the N95 mask, and experts haven't even confirmed that the mask would stop transmission of the virus, Mr. Carter said. 

He argued in the piece that the spike in face mask sales in response to the coronavirus outbreak offers a lesson in price-gouging, saying if you don't allow the price to rise for a product in demand, the quantity of that product will also fall. 

As an example, Mr. Carter said if sellers of the face masks were punished for raising prices on the masks during a period of increased demand, that would disincentivize other companies from selling the masks. That leads to a decreased supply, causing shortages like the one currently seen thanks to the coronavirus scare.

Mr. Carter also said it is important for people to have equal access to supplies needed during an unexpected emergency, which may not be possible if prices are raised too high. 

Read the full article here

Copyright © 2022 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.