Albertsons was recently hit with a lawsuit over allegations that some of its stores dramatically increased prices on certain essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has so far brought about several changes to our daily lives, including social distancing and wearing masks when in a crowd. One change that may have come as a surprise to many, though, was the lack of toilet paper in stores across the country at the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, some stores took advantage of the lack of toilet paper and increased the price for shoppers. One woman, Eleisha Redmond, got fed up with the price gouging taking place at her local grocery store and decided to file a lawsuit. According to the suit, Redmond “paid almost double the regular price for toilet paper at a popular grocery store chain owned by Albertsons during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in California federal court and names the grocery store, San Francisco Safeway, and Albertsons as defendants. According to the suit, Redmond “paid almost $19 for Angel Soft toilet paper,” even though the regular price for the product averages around $10.
Based in Idaho, Albertsons is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the U.S. It owns stores throughout 35 states and “operates several grocery chains including Acme, Safeway, Shaw’s and United Supermarkets.” Like many stores across the country, the San Francisco Safeway store that Redmond shopped at got hit with a mad rush of people panic buying toilet paper and other essential items. To prevent price gouging, many states implemented price gouging laws as they declared states of emergency. Thanks to these price gouging laws, stores were prohibited from increasing prices of essential items, including toilet paper. Even in California, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) “issued an executive order in April extending California’s price gouging prohibition, prohibiting price increases of 10% of more.”
However, the suit alleges that many items, including toilet paper, at “Albertsons stores exceeded that price increase, a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and a negligence claim.” The suit further states, “Unfortunately, Defendant sold numerous items far in excess of their pre-pandemic prices.”
According to Redmond, she shopped at her local Safeway store in San Francisco “in the days, weeks, and months after the governor of California declared a state of emergency, for items that Defendant priced far in excess of 10% above the pre-emergency price for such items.” As a result, she is seeking damages for not only herself but for “others similarly situated.” The suit states:
“As in any time of economic turmoil, there are those who seek to profit from the misery of millions. Defendants, who are producers, wholesalers, and retailers of eggs, comprise one such set of actors.”