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Coronavirus: Shops ‘profiting off death’ - Ilford Lane businesses accused of price gouging

PUBLISHED: 17:59 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:08 21 March 2020

Some shops in Ilford Lane have been accused of price gouging in the midst of coronavirus fears. Picture: Ken Mears

Some shops in Ilford Lane have been accused of price gouging in the midst of coronavirus fears. Picture: Ken Mears

Ken Mears Photography

Some Ilford Lane businesses are accused of hiking up prices to more than double as shoppers stock up in case of a coronavirus lock down.

Ruthba Amin created this poster and has been sharing it on social media to call attention to the price gouging she's noticed in Ilford this past week. Picture: Ruthba AminRuthba Amin created this poster and has been sharing it on social media to call attention to the price gouging she's noticed in Ilford this past week. Picture: Ruthba Amin

At Islamabad Halal Butchers in Ilford Lane, a kilo of mince cost an eye-watering £12.49 on Monday. The store has removed all pricing from the front counter.

One horrified shopper told the Recorder the price had formerly been £5.99.

He said: “I asked them ‘Are you serious?’ and the guy just shrugged his shoulders.”

When the Recorder called the butcher to ask about their alleged price-ramping their response was: “Don’t pick on us. We are trying to run a business” before hanging up the phone.

Khuram Amin, head coach of Redbridge Amateur Boxing Club, was furious after he said he was charged double price at another Ilford Lane butcher.

He said: “They are raking in the profits on the back of death!”

On Thursday Cllr Kam Rai tweeted: “Any business found to be price gouging should lose their business rate relief and funding. This is not the time to profiteer.”

Earlier this week Ilford South MP Sam Tarry wrote to local business owners about the importance of acting responsibly and with compassion in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

He told the Recorder: “I’m trying to appeal to them on moral grounds. My inbox has been flooded this week from people who have lost their jobs and are struggling.

“This is not a time to be ripping off each other, but a time to be supporting each other.”

Leader of the council Jas Athwal echoed that sentiment and said: “At a time when we all need to pull together it’s very sad that some shops are using the opportunity to hugely inflate prices.”

He said the practice was unacceptable and he has written to the Secretary of State requesting urgent action.

The council is also adding a price hiking report function to its website and is sending round its Trading Standards teams to investigate.

He said it was shameful that some businesses were exploiting the current situation while the vast majority of residents are going out of their way to help those in need.

He added: “We all have the power to vote with our feet so if you see price hiking take your custom elsewhere and also help the community by reporting it to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)”

Ruthba Amin, who is shopping for a household of 10, said she had experienced price-ramping across the board in Ilford.

A kilo of mince would ordinarily cost her £7.99, she said, but is now priced at £12.99, while boxes of frozen chicken had jumped in price from £35.99 to £40 yesterday.

“I was quite disgusted,” she said. “At the end of the day it’s not fair on us, we can’t afford to spend that much.”

Other local families reported that the cost of a 2kg pack of lentils at a supermarket in Ilford Lane has jumped from £2.69 to £5.99.

After Nimeeta Vyas was charged £7 more than the usual price for a 20kg bag of rice from Angel Supermarket she called businesses who are jacking up their prices “scheming thieves”.

She said: “I know we are in tough times but this is absolutely ridiculous.

“In times of need we are wanting to help small and local businesses but seriously with this price hike it’s not worth it.”

To report a business you think is price gouging go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tell-the-cma-about-a-competition-or-market-problem#what-to-tell-us-about-and-why

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