In the initial stages of the pandemic, surging demand for household goods and medical supplies led to heavy price increases and a decline in inventory across digital commerce platforms. Categories with a higher share of third-party sellers saw significant price gouging.
On Amazon, for example, the average price for best-selling medical supplies, such as bulk face masks and thermometers, rose by 28% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019. Prices for best-selling face masks shot up 197% on average, showing that consumers were still willing to purchase the products despite much higher prices.
Gartner analysis shows that an Amazon-specific medical supply brand had the highest share of face masks on the Amazon Best-Sellers page, while 3M, a national scientific and industrial supplies retailer, had no best-selling products during this period.