Chinese shopping extravaganzas abound. Two big ones are Singles' Day on November 11, created by online retail giant Tmall, and the June 18 Shopping Festival created by JD. But though touted as discount days that benefit consumers, many e-sellers are price gouging to reap huge profits. The behavior has gained the attention of the authorities, the state-owned Guangming Daily reports.
Many online retailers raise their prices the day before the holiday and then drop them again to appear to offer a significant discount on festival days. The State Administration for Market Regulation regards the practice as "price fraud," as it made clear at a recent seminar about regulating June 18 promotions.
Such price fraud is ubiquitous because of the low penalties incurred, the commentary says. Regulators generally punish offenders with fines too minor to disrupt their business model, or with 'education'.
The Guangming Daily editorializes that authorities should improve real-time monitoring technology because it is tough to supervise the sheer volume of items sold. Supervisory departments should collect and track item data and intervene in illegal sales promotions. Punishments for price gouging should be tightened up, the editorial adds.