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Price-gouging monitor flooded with reports, Civil Defence offers deliveries to vulnerable

A new monitoring group looking at price-gouging in the nationwide lockdown received almost 1000 complaints in the first day of it being set-up.

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People complained about the price of cauliflower, hand sanitiser, bread, meat, face masks and garlic.

By 9am today, Price Watch received 990 email complaints, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Some of the emails were duplicates and others were unrelated to price-gouging.

High prices of cauliflower was the most common complaint, with some people reporting the vegetable being sold for $13 each, Ms Ardern says.

"Prices of hand sanitiser, bread, meat, face masks and garlic also featured in complaints."

While Ms Ardern says the group is taking these issues seriously, some of the complaints will be for prices that are legitimately spiking, rather than cases of price-gouging.

"In some cases, it will simply be an issue in constrained change in supply, particularly when it comes to produce," she says.

"But we are investigating complaints that are made because this is a time when we want to know that New Zealanders are being treated fairly. 

"The process for dealing with complaints is being worked through, and will need to be fact checked, and we will involve traders so that they obviously have a chance to respond to what's being raised."

Ms Ardern reiterated her plea for people to shop normally and be kind to supermarket workers.

CIVIL DEFENCE OFFERS DELIVERIES TO THE VULNERABLE

Supermarket companies Foodstuffs and Progressive both offer a variety of options to let people order online instead of going in-store, including click-and-collect and delivery options.

But since the coronavirus pandemic reached New Zealand shores, there's been a surge of demand in those options.

Despite efforts to reserve some slots for elderly and the vulnerable, slots book out quickly and are filled for the whole week ahead.

Now the Civil Defence has said it can help out in the delivery of groceries and essential items for those unable to make it to the shops.

"You're really looking at those who absolutely require that support to their door, to their household, and provide it in a safe way," Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black told 1 NEWS.

It's hoped the programme will be of particular help to the disabled, people without access to transport and other at-risk groups.

Local Civil Defence groups have established helplines for their regions where residents can call if they need help. 

"But this isn't a general phone line for those that are unable to get their orders done online," Ms Stuart-Black says.

SALVATION ARMY TURNS TO TECHNOLOGY FOR HELP AS DEMAND GROWS FOR FOOD PARCELS

With businesses shut down and the economy struggling, the need for food parcels is growing as the lockdown continues.

But due to the risk of the coronavirus spreading, people can't donate supplies like usual.

"You're now seeing a complete uplift in our distribution of food parcels across the country and we expect that to rise more," the Salvation Army's Tim Hamilton told 1 NEWS.

The Salvation Army is turning to technology for help.

With the new online platform foodbank.org.nz, people can pick the food parcel they want to donate.

There are a variety of options for a large family for $90, down to snacks for $11.

A nearby Countdown will then donate those items to a participating donation centre.

More than $100,000 was donated to the website yesterday, the Salvation Army says.