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'It's tough': Supermarkets slammed for price hikes during covid-19

Aussies are seeing price hikes on staples at supermarkets. Source: Getty

Aussie shoppers braving the crowds during the coronavirus outbreak have been met with hiked prices on staples, as panic-buying is leaving shelves bare.

Fresh fruit like bananas have hit $4.90 per kilo, while iceberg lettuce at Woolworths hit as much as $5.50 - and $10 a head at a Brisbane Foodworks.

At a Brisbane Woolworths, broccoli was reportedly selling for $11.50 per kilo while head of cauliflower was $8.90.

Aldi, the supermarket known for offering the best prices, has truss tomatoes priced at $8.99 a kilogram and iceberg lettuce was just 90 cents less than its competitors, at $4.99, according to the Daily Mail.

Over in Adelaide, shoppers aren’t noticing a hike in prices, but rather a lack of specials.

“I don’t feel like prices have necessarily jumped,” shopper Maria told Yahoo Finance. “I think we’re just used to shopping on special and nothing is being dropped at the moment. It’s tough though - it does make my bill more expensive.”

Aussies have taken to Twitter to call on Australia’s consumer watchdog to take action during this time.

Choice slams price gouging

Consumer advocacy group, Choice, slammed retailers for price gouging on essential items during the coronavirus crisis, arguing it should be against the law to do so.

“It may surprise you to learn that price gouging – jacking up prices for essential goods when supplies are low – is technically not illegal in most cases,” Choice stated.

“CHOICE has a simple message for anyone engaging in price gouging during the coronavirus crisis (or any time for that matter): don't even think about it.”

Choice has reportedly seen face masks being sold for 10 or 20 times the regular price, as well as hand sanitisers being sold for double the price.

The consumer group also slammed retailers for playing on people’s fears of a shortage of essentials.

“One tactic that's been getting far too much play in recent days and weeks is when businesses cynically play on people's fear about a shortage of essential goods,” Choice stated.

The group revealed a major culprit was Mosaic Brands, the brand behind Noni B, Katies and Millers.

Purchase limits in place

On Wednesday, Woolworths announced a strict two-limit rule on almost all items in a bid to stop panic buying during the coronavirus outbreak.

This follows Coles’ introduction of a two-per-customer limit on items including pasta, flour, dry rice, paper towels, paper tissues and hand sanitisers on Friday March 13.

There is currently no limit on how much fresh fruit and vegetables, meat (excluding mince), baked goods and drinks are available. 

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