It's well known at this point that opportunistic third-party sellers on Amazon ($AMZN) marketplace are doing whatever they can to cash in on coronavirus panic buying. As we've reported in the past, face mask sales have gone off the charts and disinfectants have been hard to come by for standard retail prices.
Amazon says it has removed tens of thousands of items that it determined were the result of price gouging, and pricing data shows that, so far, there hasn't been an appreciable rise in average prices across most of the site's categories.
The pricing data we've averaging here only accounts for the top 100 selling items per category, so it doesn't reflect the thousands of price gougers who may set up a new account and sell items at a high margin for a short period of time before the products begin to track in Amazon's best-selling product data. But it does show that across all of the relevant categories at Amazon, average prices have not risen, even in the site's Health & Household category where many items such as disinfectants are seeing price gouging.
At least among legitimate sellers (Amazon included) that move a lot of product, prices are holding steady for the top-100 products in each category. This data is also evidence that Amazon is indeed stamping out the price gougers before sales of their products can impact the average price of a category.
For instance, The Wall Street Journal found that a 33-count container of Clorox wipes was selling for $20.99 — eight times the normal price — on Thursday afternoon. By the next day, that product had disappeared from Amazon. And if products do work their way up the sales charts — like face masks have — their prices remain the same until they simply become unavailable.
But even if Amazon is keeping up with price gougers, less-regulated marketplaces like eBay and Facebook continue to see prices escalate as buyers make it clear that they're willing to pay whatever it takes to remain safe.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.
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