A price check from Consumer NZ has found the price of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) varied greatly among retailers, with prices ranging from $6.50 to $19 per test.
With no set price for RATs, it’s up to individual retailers to decide a price.
“Some consumers have concerns about price gouging after exorbitant markups on protective face masks such as the N95. We would expect RATs to range from $6.50 to $15, so if you do find extremely expensive tests for sale, you are entitled to ask a retailer why pricing is so high,” says Caitlin Cherry, Consumer NZ Head of Content.
“In New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment runs Price Watch to keep an eye on prices. The Fair Trading Act also prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct, meaning a business needs to give a reason for a price increase otherwise it could be breaching the law.”
In Australia, it has just become illegal for RATs to be sold with more than a 20% markup after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received more than 1800 reports of price gouging. One of the worst examples of price gouging was a set of two tests costing up to $500, despite wholesale costs ranging between $3.95 and $11.45 a test.
Consumer NZ reached out to a number of pharmacies regarding pricing. Some pharmacists said they would not stock RATs, given they were unable to access them at a competitive price or within a fast enough time frame and didn’t want to be seen as ‘ripping the public off’.
Warehouse Stationery currently offers the lowest price we’ve seen: $31.99 for a pack of 5, which works out at $6.40 per test.
Foodstuffs will sell the Orient Gene Rapid COVID-19 Self Test 5-pack ($32.99 per pack), and the Ecotest COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Nasal Pen 2-pack ($19.99 per pack). These are expected to be available next week.
Woolworths (Countdown) were contacted by Consumer NZ about their stock and price, but they did not respond.
Chemist Warehouse is selling five packs of RATs for $44.99 on their website, working out at $8.99 per test.
A pharmacy in Lower Hutt is selling the same five-pack, on pre-order, for $74.99. These work out to be $14.99 per test.
“It’s important to remember that RATs are free for anyone with Covid symptoms, or for positive Covid cases, through your local testing station and participating GPs,” Cherry said.
“However, if you do want to have a few RATs up your sleeve for peace of mind, ensure you’re purchasing them for a price that is fair.”