Brisk sales of masks, retailers warned against escalating prices
In the wake of the Wuhan virus outbreak, surgical masks are the hottest items on sale in Singapore.
Yesterday, supermarket chain Hao Mart said new stocks of the masks were sold out within three hours at its Turf City outlet, while Watsons reported that its masks for sale online had also run out.
Online marketplace Qoo10 featured a listing on Monday that advertised 30 pieces of "anti-coronavirus" masks for sale at $10,000.
The listing was taken down yesterday.
A Qoo10 spokesman told The New Paper: "We do not tolerate merchants who escalate prices to unreasonable levels in an attempt to profit off the general public's worry and panic, or even as a joke."
Qoo10 said merchants found guilty of such behaviour may be temporarily suspended while investigations continue.
A packet of 10 surgical masks usually costs around $5, though the price can vary a lot, while 20 N95 masks cost about $40.
Many sellers are raising prices on Carousell too, in some cases asking for more than twice the shelf price.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Speaking to TNP yesterday, Hao Mart managing director Patrick Tan said five cartons of masks, containing 10,000 pieces, had been ordered for its Grandstand outlet.
A booth has been set up to sell them the moment they arrive, instead of putting them on the shelves as usual.
Customers would be restricted to a box each.
"Everyone has been asking for masks and queuing up for them, so we wanted to distribute it right away," Mr Tan said.
"There are too many people buying masks and stock is low, so we did this to ensure all had masks."
On Tuesday, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min addressed concerns over reports on social media of masks running out in stores after Wuhan virus cases were detected here.
He warned retailers against profiteering and gave the assurance that masks will be available if people use them sensibly and responsibly.