When the first wave of COVID-19 rolled in, consumers flocked to the cleaning aisle. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and paper towels flew off the shelves as we prepared for the worst. The prevailing theory was that the virus could linger on any surface, so you’d better wipe everything down and wash your hands.
As a second wave crashes in, retailers and consumers are stocking up on essentials, now with a better understanding of the pandemic and how coronavirus spreads. And Amazon sellers seem to be using the heightened demand as an opportunity for price gouging. The trend reveals itself in product pricing data for name brands like Clorox versus generic supplies.
Clorox disinfecting wipes vs. generic wipes
2020 has been a good year for Clorox. The company, along with its subsidiary brands, has seen surging sales, social media attention, and rising prices. The average Amazon listing price for Clorox wipes has ballooned by over 200% since January, when the average price sat around $9. In August, people were paying as much as $50 for a pack of disinfecting wipes. The average listing price is now about $30. Meanwhile, the average price for generic wipes have remained around $10, despite a few surges.
Clorox bleach vs. generic bleach
Bleach prices are rising, hopefully not due to President Trump’s bleach injection suggestion. The average Amazon price for generic bleach listings is currently at $26, up from January’s $3 average. Clorox bleach is even pricier with a $40 average listing price.
Bounty vs. generic paper towels
The average Amazon listing price for Bounty paper towels is currently around $46, up from $9 in March. People are buying in bulk and Bounty is taking advantage. The average was as high as $71 over the summer.
Generic paper towels are getting more expensive, too. The average Amazon price for paper towels listings has been hovering around $40 over the last few months, up from $22 in March.
Charmin vs. generic toilet paper
We’re witnessing a similar trend with Big Toilet Paper and generic TP. The average Amazon price for a pack of Charmin rolls is currently at $32. Generic toilet paper pricing is about the same. That said, prices for both name brand and generic brand toilet paper have fallen from the peak of pandemic panic.
There seems to be enough toilet paper to go around these days, but we could be on the verge of a Charmin shortage. Earlier this month, there was an average of 37 listings for Charmin products on Amazon. That number has since dropped to eight.
Back in March, Clorox addressed Amazon sellers' price gouging and stopped running advertising on the platform after its products sold out. “We have currently shut down all ad-display activity on most of our disinfecting products on Amazon,” a Clorox spokesman told Ad Age. “Also, we’re actively working with Amazon to address some of the price gouging that is going on. It’s very disappointing to see third-party sellers doing this at a time when people need access to disinfecting products.” It's been eight months and the average price of Amazon's Clorox listings continues to rise.
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.