With Covid-19 returning after more than three months, online mask prices have been doubled although retailers and producers assure stocks are plentiful.
A seller in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District said on Facebook she recently sold 30 boxes (of 50 masks) at VND120,000 ($5.2) each, almost twice the regular price of VND65,000. She blamed the supplier for increasing prices, saying she next plans to sell a box at VND160,000 ($6.9) in the next two days. Another seller of Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District too hiked her prices to VND120,000 ($5.2), saying she bought the masks for herself, and sell to those who need them. Those who do not buy soon might have to pay even more in the coming days, she added.
Online masks were hiked prices by 40-100 percent over the weekend after 15 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the central region. Da Nang City authorities have imposed social distancing measures starting Monday. But major retailers in Hanoi and HCMC said they have enough supply of masks and would continue to sell them at normal prices of around VND65,000 ($2.8). A spokesperson for VinCommerce, which operates supermarket and convenience store chains VinMart and VinMart+, said 2.5 million boxes of masks and three million hand sanitizers are in stock and sold at normal prices. "We guarantee there will be enough masks and hand sanitizers for people to fight the pandemic." Also, Ichiban Market, a supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City, said there is no scarcity of masks.
Manufacturers too assured that there are enough stocks. According to Le Tien Truong, CEO of textile company Vinatex, his company could produce 100 million masks a month, and that prices would not change. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the 50 biggest garment producers in the country could produce 200 million masks a month, enough to meet domestic demand.
Market authorities have begun to monitor the prices of masks and other pandemic-related goods to punish speculators and gougers. In Da Nang, where 14 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed since Saturday, authorities checked nearly 600 medical equipment outlets and found no unusual rise in prices despite the sharp rise in demand.