The competition watchdog has launched a taskforce to tackle businesses looking to exploit the coronavirus outbreak to take advantage of customers.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the outbreak has prompted concerns that people could be exploited by companies “charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about their products”.
It said it has already contacted traders and platforms over excessive pricing of hand sanitiser as part of its efforts.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said: “This is obviously a time when we all have to behave responsibly to protect our fellow citizens, and particularly those who are most vulnerable.
“We urge retailers to behave responsibly in the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“But if they do not, our taskforce is monitoring market developments to enable us to intervene as quickly as possible.
“We have a range of options at our disposal, from warnings to enforcement action to seeking emergency powers.”