As Minnesota braced for the impending uptick of COVID-19 cases in the state, many individuals rushed to the stores to ensure they had the supplies they needed, with many families buying much more than they needed. As a result, stores across the state have been experiencing an increased demand for staple goods such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. While many stores have continued to restock such items as business as usual, other stores have viewed the high demand as an opportunity to turn a profit. This practice of raising prices on high-demand, essential household and health items is known as price gouging.
In response to reports of price gouging, Governor Walz issued an executive order prohibiting the practice during the peacetime emergency. As a result, stores that sell essential goods necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of the general public at excessive and prohibitive prices will be facing an investigation and potential penalty from Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office.
The attorney general this week announced his office had received 483 complaints of price gouging within the first week of the executive order’s implementation. Several stores have already been warned of their potential violations and have entered into formal agreements to immediately stop the practice. With investigators and “secret shoppers” deployed across the state, Attorney General Ellison is committed to monitoring this situation closely and will be taking action as needed.
Minnesotans are encouraged to report any instances of price gouging they encounter, which can be done using the attorney general’s complaint form, found here.