By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
INDEPENDENT stores have been accused of hiking up prices as supermarkets run out of essentials.
Overcharging in some shops is said to be as high as 500 per cent, with items such as long-life milk, baby food and nappies in big demand.
Some shops are limiting purchases to one item per customer. One woman was reportedly left in tears after being unable to buy baby milk for her child.
Dewsbury councillor Gulfam Asif has appealed for people to use common sense when buying essential items – and for shops not to profit from the coronavirus crisis.
“Lots of people are complaining about what’s going on. Facebook is going red and people are angry,” he said.
“I went to have a look at some stores and something that should be 30p was costing £1.
“Prices are going up for the essentials: meat, rice, flour. Overcharging is rife. This is blatant profiteering.
“In one shop I found a woman crying because she couldn’t get any baby milk.
“Some shops are blaming a lack of supplies from Europe but some of them have stockpiles of stuff in the back. They are simply taking advantage of the situation.”
Coun Asif (Lab, Dewsbury South) said some independent shopkeepers were guilty of feeding off people’s fears.
“People are turning up at supermarkets and buying trolley-loads of goods.
“These stores should now be limiting people to how much they can buy. There should be a system for people to buy what they need.”
Sainsburys’ chief executive Mike Coupe has written to customers who are stocking up urging them to only buy what they need.
In an email he said: “If we all shop just for the food that we and our families need, there will be enough for everyone.”
Over the past two weeks Sainsburys has set limits on items including some cleaning products, soap and pain relief.
Mr Coupe added: “This is a precautionary measure – if everyone shops normally, there will be enough for everyone.
"Please think before you buy and only buy what you and your family need."