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Coronavirus headache: Resellers add 900% markup to paracetamol and essential items during pandemic

  • Paracetamol is seeing the biggest percentage markup overall, with average online marketplace prices a staggering 874% more than in grocery stores.
  • Gloves come in as the most expensive item overall, with a pack of 100 costing a whopping £32.96 online compared to an average of £11.18 in-store.
  • The highest individual markup found was a paracetamol listing, which charged 1,710% more per tablet than supermarkets (although it has now been taken down).

16 April 2020, LONDON –

The coronavirus pandemic originally saw panic buying as Brits prepared for a lockdown. While supermarket stocks have generally been replenished, new research from shopping comparison site,, has found that the average prices being charged by Internet sellers are still far higher than those in stores.

The product seeing the highest online markup is paracetamol, averaging close to 900% (874%) more expensive online than in the supermarket. This means that a packet of 16 paracetamol currently costing 97p in a supermarket, would cost an average of £9.45 from an Internet seller.

Hand sanitiser is experiencing the second-biggest price hike, at 585%. The average supermarket cost for 100ml of hand sanitiser is £1.53, but online marketplaces are listing an average price tag of £10.48.

Packets of gloves have a lower average markup of 195%, but these work out to be the costliest item overall, with a pack of 100 setting online buyers back a hefty £32.96, which is £21.78 more expensive than in-store (£11.18).

Consumers searching for thermometers may not be too disheartened by the prices on ecommerce sites, with online prices usually 17% more than shop prices. This makes the average cost of a thermometer £6.33 online, versus £5.40 in a supermarket – a price some consumers may be willing to pay given the difficulty in finding them at the moment.

The highest individual markup found was a paracetamol listing. It was charging 1,710% more per tablet than supermarkets, though it has since been taken down by eBay.

Here are some tips for those looking for essential items from Georgia-Rose Johnson, shopping and travel specialist at

  • Check out your local corner shops – while they may not stock something a bit niche like a thermometer, they are often overlooked when shopping for the basics such as toilet roll.
  • If you’re classed as a vulnerable customer (either because of your age or an underlying health condition), then look to see what shopping help your local big-chain supermarket has on offer. Most major supermarkets have put aside time slots at the beginning of the day for people categorised in this group, so you can shop safely among fully stocked shelves. Many grocery stores are also prioritising vulnerable customers for online deliveries.
  • The UK’s supermarkets are working to increase the number of delivery slots that they have available for grocery orders placed online. For example, the nation’s largest grocery chain, Tesco, has just added an extra 145,000 delivery slots, an increase of more than 20%.
  • Have a look at Finder’s shopping guides to help you source essential items during the coronavirus outbreak, as well as discounts if you’re an NHS worker. We’ve searched the web to unearth which retailers are stocking what items and found some surprising results – who knew stationery firm Staples sold toilet roll?
  • Finally, you don’t need to ignore online marketplaces like eBay. While the average cost of essential items appears to be higher at the moment, there may be some good deals around if you have a look. You may also be willing to pay a bit of a premium for an item you can’t find anywhere else.

Finder chose five of the UK’s most popular shopping items currently: hand sanitiser, paracetamol, gloves, toilet paper and thermometers.

The in-store price of these items was collected at three major supermarket chains (Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s). The online asking price for these items was also taken from the top two pages on eBay for each item, totalling 156 listings. The difference in these prices was then analysed to calculate the average resale price online compared to in-store.


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The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on's review pages for the current correct values.

About is a personal finance website, which helps consumers compare products online so they can make better informed decisions. Consumers can visit the website to compare utilities, mortgages, credit cards, insurance products, shopping voucher codes, and so much more before choosing the option that best suits their needs.

Best of all, is completely free to use. We’re not a bank or insurer, nor are we owned by one, and we are not a product issuer or a credit provider. We’re not affiliated with any one institution or outlet, so it’s genuine advice from a team of experts who care about helping you find better. launched in the UK in February 2017 and is privately owned and self-funded by two Australian entrepreneurs – Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia – who successfully grew to be Australia's most visited personal finance website (Source: Experian Hitwise).

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