BVI News

How affordable are masks in BVI? Some local stores double the prices

Since the inception of the mandatory rule to wear protective face masks while in public, some local stores are charging what can be described considerably higher prices on these items in comparison to other establishments.

In a recent BVI News visit to several stores and pharmacies, our news centre discovered that the price of masks at some establishments cost up to twice as much at others.

This could mean some residents potentially spending more for the protective gear.

Take, for example, one major Road Town-based pharmacy who, for the purposes of this article, will only be named as ‘Major Pharmacy A’. It sells a single three-layered surgical mask for $3 while its counterpart ‘Pharmacy B’ — which operates on Virgin Gorda — sells the same mask for $1.50 apiece.

Operating under the guidelines of the World Health Organisation — which states that surgical masks are for single-use only — the average local worker who ventures outside their home five days per week could spend a minimum monthly cost of $30 for 20 masks if they buy the items at Pharmacy B.

Twenty of the same masks would cost $60 at Major Pharmacy A.

List of mask prices at various stores

Other stores, in the meantime, sell their masks in packs. Our news centre’s discreet shopper visited some of these establishments and collated the prices of surgical masks as wells N95 masks. At least one study has shown that N95s can be safely decontaminated for reuse two or three times, without compromising its functional integrity.

Below are some of the prices that our news centre recorded. The actual names of the local establishments visited will not be publicised.

A Fish Bay retail store sells one surgical mask for $1.99 and an N95 mask for $8.99. A pack of 10 surgical masks costs $14.95 at a Purcell store while an N95 mask costs $7.99.

A store with multiple outlets in the BVI sells a box containing 50 masks for $59.99. The cost of a single disposable surgical mask at one pharmacy in Road Town is $3, while its N95 masks cost $5 each. A box containing 20 N95 masks at the said establishment costs $80.

One Virgin Gorda pharmacy sells a surgical mask for $1.50 and an N95 mask for $7.99. Another well-known pharmacy in Road Town sells its surgical masks for $3 each, and an N95 mask cost $10 each.

No complaints to Trade Department

Notably, American e-commerce conglomerate Amazon lists the price for a 50-pack surgical mask at only $12.99 while a pack of three N95 masks costs $7.99.

When asked recently whether her department has received any complaints on the prices of masks Director of Trade Karia Christopher told our news centre: “No complaints received to my knowledge.”

READ: Differences between surgical masks and N95 masks

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

27 Comments

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  1. Parent says:

    Especially B——- over by Q— he got mask rediculous high.

    • Zorro says:

      Be careful! There are a lot of unauthorized masks in circulation. The CDC did a study in early May and discovered that 80 of the 100 masks that they tested did not provide the level of protection that they advertised. Surprisingly, many stores here are still selling these masks which are now banned from the US. Here are a list of the approved masks: https://www.fda.gov/media/136663/download My favorite is the Powecom. The CDC reports that it has a 99% Filtration Efficiency rating – top 10! This lists highlights the test results and the names of the masks that are now prohibited in the US: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/respirators/testing/NonNIOSHresults.html. Be careful!

      • Blue sky says:

        Why the govt allow the counterfeit goods into the country? Why them don’t. confemescate all the fake masks? Why the govt allow these unhealthy things be sold? Do they they care about us or do they want to just sell us bad tings ?

  2. BEST PRICE says:

    $1 EACH AT International Motors in Fish Bay

    • Cuomo says:

      Why don’t we have access to free qualified masks? Which party is going to offer them first? Those that live to the west of the dump need them everyday! We should be getting them for free. We need de real ones not they fake ones that the sell now.

  3. We the people says:

    Greed is real. A shop in L. Estate before corona was selling a small bottle of alcohol for 1.45. The same bottles on the shelf and they change the 1 into a 4. No new stock to say that they buy them at a higher price so they have to resell at a profit which is business sense. It’s the same dusty bottles that there all the time they write over the price with a pen. Raybin

    • PJs says:

      Well regular soap, water while you sing happy bday 2x works perfectly + make your own masks use a pillowcase and viola – Done.

  4. Shame on them says:

    The same box of masks r*****y selling for $59.99 now they were selling for $79.99 a few weeks ago. Madness. But then who can blame them when the government allows these businesses to take advantage of us. We have been begging for price control for so many years.

    Like 15
  5. Smh says:

    surgical masks at v********l’s pharmacy cost 3$

  6. No surprise says:

    Why would people complain about the prices ? We all know the government wouldn’t do a darn thing about it.

    Like 10
  7. capitalism says:

    there is nothing wrong with differing prices. These items are readily available throughout the BVI – if you dont like their prices then go buy somewhere else.

    Like 1
    Dislike 11
    • hi says:

      You sound like an a$$ HOLE.not everyone has vehicles to jump from stop to store like you. Be Considerate.. think on the other guy. Store owners should not be so wicked

      • To hi says:

        LOL he’s actually the @ $$ and the hole all together LOL….your comment made my day

        • Me says:

          @shame on them, yes that’s true. I saw it and took a picture saying wow! $79.99 for 50 masks. Didn’t even bother with it. Now I see price reduce ….smh

          • Hmmm says:

            $79.99 that is cheap it had one on the face book community board telling people $90. Some of the SOBs so bad and don’t want to get caught that they tell you inbox them for price. The minute they say that you know you getting over charge……..

  8. Masks? says:

    If high prices causing re use you will get sick from the mask. If there is no Covid on the island why do you need to where them everywhere?

  9. R**y's VG says:

    Disposable mask at R**y’s on VG was $7…….

  10. informed says:

    Masks and PPE are an essential items. E.g. Handsanitizer. as alcohol based is 15% duty. Under a pandemic these items should reduce to 0% as not a luxury item. Masks I think are 10%.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  11. Hone boy says:

    $2.00 By —– gass station buy he part of government. So nothing going to happen.

  12. Guest says:

    There was a certain T-shirt company that was sellIng masks for $90. People need to take a mental note when we get through this. Those same b*+++++s will come infront you talking about support them. Yet in BVI time of need a disaster they saw fit to raping us with these prices left and right……

  13. No nonsense says:

    Time to throw them in the trash!! NOT NEEDED!

  14. On Another Note says:

    We are buying the masks at whatever price, but I’ve noticed that we are either not wearing the masks OR not wearing them properly.

    The majority of people that actually wear them, have them pulled down below their nose, or even on their chin.

    What’s the sense of spending all that money to buy them when we’re not allowing them to work effectively?

  15. Expose the Greedy Gougers says:

    I bought 4 plastic face shied masks for some volunteers to wear while making deliveries to the needy, from a beauty supply store in Boougaars Baay for $25 dollars each (total $100). At that time, they seemed to be the only store selling them.

    A few days later other stores were selling better styled and quality face shied masks for as low as $6.99 and $7.99. who might I add doubled the price of the actual suggested cost to customers.
    That same store now drop their price to $8 or $9.

    You support these stores all year round with their ridiculous prices and they will still try to raid your pockets even more during a crisis. That is the time when they can show some gratitude to their customers. Because even if they reduce their prices a few cents or even by a dollar from their original selling price, they are still going to make a significant profit.

    I know about supply and demand, but that is blatant greed\theft. Their price gouging was more than triple in price. I for one will never grace their doors with my presence again as our partnership has been compromised. I felt so betrayed and disrespected as a regular customer.

    I will forge a partnership with another store whose price gouging prices are a bit more reasonable as all stores has raised their prices on essential items.

    The extra extra high price of the extra extra greedy gougers are a definite, NO NO (Crave All Lose All)

  16. The Law of Supply and Demand says:

    Am sure from the comments already posted, many of you are amateur economist, so you will understand what I am about to say.

    It is a bit unfair to blame the entirety of the price spike or hike on the business owner alone.

    At the start of this crisis, mask around the world were running to a problem of scarcity, though the demand was high and because demand was high it created an increase in prices. Unit price of the mask, shipping cost, and because countries were trying to force their producers to keep the mask in country and not export as much because of their own need. This pull on supply and demand also created shortages and that spiked demand even more and this in turn drove up the prices. By the time business owners on the island got their supply of mask the price per mask was so high that, they could only sell at an increase price to recover cost and shipping, with very little room left for profit.

    I wonder if we understand what it cost to ship to the BVI as adverse to our closest neighbours, the USVI. The minute we cross into international waters, cost for shipping becomes significantly higher.

    Fine, then we had enterprising individuals and other retail tailoring business adopt to the climate and started to create their own supply. This also necessitate cost attached to cloth, some filters, some labour.

    For a time, Supply met demand and prices normalized into something equitable for both retailer and customer. This is where you now see a disparity of price ranges for CDC approved masks and cloth masks. Cloth mask are an investment as they are reusable however, we must still consider the cost of making them balanced against the need for some profit because at the end of the day, it is still business.

    Currently many businesses are sitting on too much supply because demand has gone down. So, they are unable to recover, even their cost. I imagine that as we pass each milestone of the reopening, the reverse will occur and this situation will again call for increased demand.

    However, there really isn’t any help for it, if you feel that the prices are too much for you in one business, you will have to shop around.

    The above is not to suggest however, that there aren’t some businesses pricing for pure profit, however, I don’t think its the majority.

    So, tarring and feathering everyone with the same brush is not critical thinking.

    Just some food for thought.

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  17. @ The law of supply and demand says:

    This is the most sensible and reasoned comment on this article. No one is condoning some of the prices but we also have to look at issues from different angles.

  18. Disinterested says:

    Unadulterated greed!

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