The price of surgical masks exploded almost overnight in Romania after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy increased the risk that the virus will spread to Romania as well. The high demand and low supply have led to situations in which the price of surgical masks has increased as much as 50 times, in the rare online stores where they are still available.
For example, a vendor on the eMAG marketplace, the biggest online marketplace platform in Romania, was selling a set of three surgical masks for RON 89 (EUR 18.5), namely EUR 6.18 per piece. By comparison, a box of 50 surgical masks was selling for around RON 30 (EUR 6.25) before the crisis broke.
On the evomag.ro online store, the price for a box of 50 surgical masks is now RON 599 (EUR 125), about 20 times higher than before the coronavirus panic.
eMAG, the biggest online retailer in Romania, announced on Tuesday, February 25, that it has bought all the surgical masks it could find at local distributors and that it would sell them at a fixed price of RON 3 (EUR 0.625) a piece – RON 150 (EUR 31.25) for a box with 50 pieces, so that Romanians buyers won’t have to pay very high prices for these items. eMAG claims that is has bought such masks even at RON 7 per piece (RON 350 per box) suggesting that it is willing to "subsidize" the price.
“In recent days, amid discussions about the increased risk of infection with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) among the population, stocks of medical masks at regular prices have run out. In these circumstances, we have all seen a very large increase in prices for these products that were sold by sellers through the marketplace platform and we have identified some solutions to solve the current situation, for the benefit of our customers,” eMAG said in a press release.
“Given the unprecedented demand for such products, we identified stocks in Romania and bought everything that could be found in the country, from existing distributors. Thus, we also bought masks at the price of RON 7/piece, meaning RON 350 for the set of 50 pieces, and we decided to bear the price difference throughout this period so that customers can buy them for RON 3 a piece,” the retailer added.
eMAG also said that it bought whatever inventories it could find in countries such as Turkey, Macedonia and Ukraine.
“Even if in the big online stores in Western Europe the price for a mask has reached RON 5, and pharmacies sell them for RON 3-5 or the stocks are exhausted, eMAG will subsidize the cost during the crisis of medical masks,” the company said.
Meanwhile, drug stores in Romania only have minimum stocks of surgical masks which they can’t renew due to depleted inventories nationally and internationally, the Association of Pharmaceutical Distributors and Retailers announced in a press release quoted by Wall-street.ro.
The members of the Association of Pharmaceutical Distributors and Retailers in Romania have sought additional suppliers to cover the unprecedented demand for protection masks, but, unfortunately, specialized producers in this niche have no substitutes, “therefore, we cannot discuss an additional production”, the press release mentions.
Surgical masks are mainly produced in China, which is unable to deliver these products anymore due to the massive coronavirus outbreak in this country.
(Photo source: ID 173103361 © Aleksandr Zubkov | Dreamstime.com)