ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York Attorney General Letitia James plans to enact new rules to combat price gouging. James has started the rulemaking process that will examine the recent price hikes by corporations.

James believes the price gouging is due to corporate greed, not increased costs. She said companies have also been taking advantage of the pandemic to drive-up costs.

“The rising costs of essentials and basic household items has had a real impact on working families,” said James. “Throughout the pandemic, hardworking New Yorkers have been struggling to make ends meet, but big corporations have been celebrating record-breaking profits. It doesn’t add up. My office is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox to crack down on price gouging and pandemic profiteering.”

New York’s price gouging law bans companies from taking advantage of a crisis to charge excessive prices for goods. James said this rulemaking process will explore evidence that corporations appear to have used the pandemic as an excuse to charge more for necessary goods, such as gas and oil, food, and cars.

Since the start of the pandemic, James said public reporting has highlighted the rising costs by these corporations. James said while all these reports may not be illegal, they could fit under New York’s price gouging law. The reports include:

  • Beef prices rose 30%, but the profits of meatpackers have increased an average of 120%
  • The cost of Proctor and Gamble diapers, toothpaste, detergent, and tampons has risen throughout the pandemic, but the company has reported record-breaking profits
  • Chipotle prices are up 10% from January 2021 to January 2022, but their operating income rose 181%
  • The cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks has risen 20%, but the company profits are up 30%
  • Shipping prices are way up, while shipping company profit margins are breaking records
  • Chevron and Shell posted record profitability while energy costs increased

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) outlines the evidence that some of the price increases for necessary goods may violate New York law and lays out the incentive structures that can lead to price gouging. The ANPR also talks about how this price gouging is harmful economically and should be banned.

The Attorney General’s Office is accepting public comments about price gouging in relation to the ANPR. Public comments can be submitted until April 22 by emailing stopillegalprofiteering@ag.ny.gov.