State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, introduced legislation that would discourage hoarding by limiting the return of grocery items during the current state of emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People have come together in a profound spirit of generosity and community during this time of crisis,” he said. “Still, shortages of certain products have been reported, and this bill would discourage those who might try to make money off of a vulnerable population’s need for basic necessities by hoarding and selling them at exorbitant prices – products ranging from toilet paper and cleaning items to baby formula and diapers.”
According to Warren, hoarders could buy up products while “hedging their investment” by returning unsold items to the store for a refund or credit of the shortage abates or when the crisis ends.
Warren’s bill seeks to protect residents from shortages of basic necessities, and prevent the return and possible resale of items that could carry the COVID-19 virus on their surfaces.
“The resale of returned items that could carry COVID-19 puts both grocery store workers and consumers at risk of being exposed to the virus,” Warren said, noting that similar legislation has passed in the New Jersey General Assembly.
The legislation would give grocery stores the sole discretion of accepting returned items that may have been unsafe or otherwise defective at the time of sale. Those items would not be eligible for resale.
In addition to his legislation, Warren is co-sponsoring other business-related COVID-19 legislation, including Philadelphia Rep. Mike Driscoll’s resolution urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to reimburse insurance companies for payments on business interruption claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.