Coronavirus preppers are out in full force, which could actually make them susceptible to some unscrupulous sellers looking to make a buck by inflating the prices of goods to exorbitant levels. In order to curb these unethical business practices, Amazon suspended 3,900 accounts that were accused of price gouging.

In addition, handing out suspensions, the listings of over 500,000 products were removed for what Amazon calls “violating our fair pricing policies.” Sellers who were tagged as price gougers were then forwarded to law enforcement agencies where they will be dealt with accordingly.

“We are constantly monitoring our stores for unfair prices and listings that make false claims in regards to COVID-19,” Amazon said in a blog post. “We have dynamic, automated systems in place that locate and remove unfairly priced items.”

Hot items that were prone to price gouging included face masks, hand sanitizer and of course, toilet paper.

“We strongly support legislative efforts to ensure unreasonably excessive price increases are illegal during this and other national crises,” the blog post added.

The news comes as more consumers are relying on companies like online retail giant Amazon for goods delivered directly to their residences. With the increased demand for online shopping, Amazon is increasing overtime pay for warehouse workers.

Per a Reuters report, “hourly workers at Amazon’s U.S. warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 through May 9, the rate increase announcement said. This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an increase in pay for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon hiked the minimum hourly rate for associates to $17 from $15 and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak boosts online orders.”

AMZN Chart

AMZN data by YCharts

Here are three ETFs to consider with Amazon exposure:

  1. Fidelity MSCI Consumer Discretionary Index ETF (FDIS): seeks to provide investment returns that correspond generally to the performance of the MSCI USA IMI Consumer Discretionary Index. The index represents the performance of the consumer discretionary sector in the U.S. equity market.
  2. Consumer Discret Sel Sect SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLY): seeks investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance of publicly traded equity securities of companies in the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector Index. The index includes securities of companies from the following industries: retail; hotels, restaurants and leisure; textiles, apparel, and luxury goods; household durables; automobiles; auto components; distributors; leisure products; and diversified consumer services.
  3. ProShares Online Retail ETF (NYSEArca: ONLN): seeks investment results, before fees and expenses, that track the performance of the ProShares Online Retail Index. The index tracks retailers that principally sell online or through other non-store channels. The index uses a modified market-capitalization weighted approach, is rebalanced monthly and is reconstituted annually.

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