Some shops have more than doubled the normal price of essential items in the midst of the pandemic crisis.
A 9-pack of toilet roll in a Walthamstow shop was pictured selling for £10.99, while a pharmacy sold 125ml bottles of hand sanitiser for £7.49.
Shelves are emptying across London, particularly of goods such as toilet paper and bags of flour, reportedly being sold for £22 in one Newham store.
However, some stores claim they are only reacting to price hikes from their suppliers.
Khuram Mallick, head pharmacist for Pyramid Pharmacy, whose Hoe Street branch was spotted selling the £7.49 hand sanitiser, explained the price is “reflective of the price we have to pay for it”.
He added: “We do not normally stock that product.”
While the Redbridge Council leader has asked the Home Secretary for “swift action” on price hiking, Waltham Forest Council said they “do not condone” it but “don’t control the market”.
Cllr Naheed Asghar, cabinet member for health partnerships and poverty reduction, said: “We know that the majority of businesses in Waltham Forest are doing the right thing and supporting our residents in this difficult time.
“It is disheartening to see that a small minority of independent businesses are increasing prices of products that are in high demand.
“We, as a council, do not condone this behaviour, however we don’t control the market.
“We are supporting those businesses doing the right thing through our #ShopLocalWF campaign, highlighting shops, restaurants, cafés and businesses that have put in place solutions to ensure all our residents can access their services safely.
“In this difficult time, it’s important for businesses and residents to work together to ensure that the most vulnerable people have the support they need.
“We’re encouraging businesses to check out the help available, both nationally and locally, and keep up to date with the most recent information available on our website”
The store accused of selling toilet roll for £10.99 could not be reached for comment.
The council leader has requested “swift action” from the government after reports of price hikes in Redbridge’s shops.
Shoppers, particularly in Ilford, are claiming essential items like toilet roll and flour have quadrupled in price in some shops.
Both council leader Cllr Jas Athwal and MP Wes Streeting said they had received reports of the practice from shoppers.
On March 15, MP Streeting tweeted: “I’ve had a report of one local business bulk-buying supermarket products and then selling them in their own shop at double the price.
“I’ll be making it clear that any more of this and I’ll be naming, shaming and running a boycott. Ilford North residents: let me know if this happens.”
In a statement on the COVID-19 pandemic, Cllr Athwal said: “It has also been reported to me that some smaller local shops have begun price hiking essential items.
“This is totally unacceptable and I have written to the Home Secretary requesting swift action be taken.”
He also asked residents to avoid bulk-buying as it “is unnecessary and can prevent others from having access to things they really need”.
Residents who notice price hiking are encouraged to report it to the Competition and Markets Authority here.