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Coronavirus: Locals hit out at traders hike prices for basic necessities

PUBLISHED: 14:01 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 25 March 2020

Some local traders across Brent including Willesden and Wembley are hiking prices during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Google

Some local traders across Brent including Willesden and Wembley are hiking prices during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Google

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Disabled residents have slammed local traders in Brent who they claim are hiking prices to profiteer from the coronavirus pandemic.

Locals said they paid £4 for a loaf of bread, £9 for 12 eggs and saw Actimil children’s milk for £35, which usually retails at £6 in some shops.

Maria Militello, who has a pacemaker, was shocked when she stepped out from her self-isolation on Friday to buy goods she needed in Willesden.

She said: “I saw hand sanitiser for £3.99 and the same thing behind it was £7.99. I told the shop keeper ‘you can’t do that’ but he said he had to sell it that high because of the wholesaler. I paid £4 for a loaf of bread.

“In another shop they were selling tissues for £5 up from £!.49. I’m not working, I’m on disability. They are stealing money from people. We should be here for each other.

“If nobody does anything about it, it will get worse.

“It’s got to stop now or there’s going to be a world war. It’s not fair what they are doing to people.”

CJ Anderson-Joseph, who has cancer, saw a four pint bottle of milk selling for £3.99, and loo roll doubled from £5 to £10.

“It’s extortionate. You have people on low incomes, vulnerable, the elderly, but the traders have no qualms, they just blame suppliers.

“The government said they are not allowed to profit but it’s escalating here and in other areas. There will be riots if it doesn’t stop. The last thing we need is people attacking shops but that’s what will happen.”

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it will consider any evidence that companies have broken competition or consumer protection law.

People can submit a form which also asks for supporting evidence, such as till receipts.

CMT chairman Lord Tyrie said: “We will do whatever we can to act against rip-offs and misleading claims, using any or all of our tools, and where we can’t act, we’ll advise government on further steps they could take, if necessary.”

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MP Dawn Butler said: “I would urge anyone with any information to report all the details to the CMA

“I am disappointed that some stores have chosen to exploit this global pandemic. I always shop locally and my local shop has kept almost all of their prices the same.

“We must play our part in combatting this coronavirus and looking after ourselves but equally looking out for others.”

Cllr Neil Nerva, who represents Queen’s Park, said price hikes were taking place across the borough. “It’s exploitation of the worst kind,it’s unacceptable, ” he said. “I know they are suffering but it’s more than that. We can’t deal with loss by exploiting customers.”

He advised residents to get in touch with their local councillor who can then speak to MPs on their behalf who can then “test the government on what they are doing”.

He added: “It’s £1 for one toilet roll £3 for paracetamol that usually retails at 50p. They are deliberately not putting prices on products so people only find out at the till where they are so relieved to get it they are hardly going to put it back.”

Trading Standards has no legal power to dictate what price, businesses chose to charge for their goods or services, the council said.

Situations where they can investigate include where a price is false or misleading, such as where something was advertised at a price to lure customers in but then the actual price turns out to be higher.

Cllr Tom Miller, Brent’s lead member for community safety, said: “While we don’t have any control over the prices local businesses are charging, we urge traders to be responsible at this difficult time.

“For residents, it’s also important to heed the government’s advice and only buy what you need.

“If everybody cooperates, there will be plenty to go around.”

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