The Price of Face Mask in Singapore = Right Price or Profiteering? - - Singapore Wacky Digital Underground Outpost

The Price of Face Mask in Singapore = Right Price or Profiteering?

$6 per box

That was the average price of a box of surgical mask pre-Coronavirus days. In fact, it was the normal price only 3 weeks ago. Today the market rate had significantly raised. There are genuine cases for price increase due to the shipping cost and the lack of masks in the market. However, to what extent would you consider one to be profiteering or just providing the right price?

So far retailers 3 Star and Dean Express had been singled out to explain their high prices. However, might be just the tip of the iceberg. With snippets from our personal experiences and the help of information obtained from local FB page- Singapore Atrium Sale, we attempt to uncover the market price of Surgical Masks in Singapore.

Having experience searching high and low for face masks, these are some of the places we bought that still provided with a reasonable price given the situation

GOV.SG RC and CC Outlets
4 Masks per household

For all the snaking queues to purchase masks (even 10 from Unity), it is surprising to see no queues to collect the masks that are provided by the government. The collection date has been extended to 29 Feb. If you want good quality surgical mask, we do suggest you head to your constituency community centre to collect while you still can.

Reasonable Price
FairPrice NTUC Unity  Chain
Price 3.50 for 10 (10 Feb 2020)

NTUC Fairprice

Unity Stores would occasionally release face masks for sale. 2 weeks ago, the price was at $2.30. Today. a packet of 10 tie back mask retails for $3.50. It may look like profiteering, but it is probably driven by lack of supply and higher distribution cost. It is still one of the cheapest in the market. It is the tie back version but quality is very good .

Valu$ Shop
Retail $19.90 Box of 50


Valu$shop is another place that would occasionally have stock. They sold 3 ply masks mainly from Vietnam.  The mask did not indicate that it is rated for BFE and PFE. However, it is less porous compared to dust mask.

Face Mask $13 Per box ( As of 6 Feb)
Credit : Singapore Atrium Sale

If you see long queues at Mustafa, you would know that stock has arrived for masks. They bring in masks now and then so keep a lookout for it. The price is at $13 for box of 50. Quality is unverified.

Ridiculous Price
Qian Li Xiang
Riverdale Plaza
Face Mask 20 for $18
Credit : Singapore Atrium Sale

At this price, it would be at $55.55 for 50. Given that they are selling out without boxes, you are not sure about the source as well. Compared to Unity,  it is more than 3 times the price for unknown quality mask. This is just one example. There are many others listed on Singapore Atrium Sale if you want to find out more.

Isafe N95 Mask Retailer - $6.90 per piece / $138 for box of 20
Credit: Louis Ng

The latest retailer to be singled out for possible profiteering this week was 3 Star. It was singled out by Louis Ng - MP for Nee Soon. Ironically, the selling price for a box is almost twice what Deen Express offered 2 weeks ago at $68 - $88 per box. If Dean Express had the foresight to wait, they might end up being the good guys. Just to note, pre-virus price was about $25 per box.

3 Star
Marine Terrace
Face Mask $38 for box of 50
Credit : Singapore Atrium Sale

Face Mask are sold for box of 50 at $38
N95 mask sold for $6.90 per piece. This is the second 3 Star outlet that had been flagged out for its high prices.

The ridiculous pricing extends to online individuals who are out to make a quick buck. You will see some sellers marketing their masks above $40 for box of 5.
Add caption

Carousell had made a post to state that listings with unreasonable prices will be taken down. Unfortunately, such listings are still available on their platforms

Other platforms like Lazada and Qoo10 continue to host retailers with crazy pricing


 A quick search on Lazada shows listings as high as $78.99 for a box of 50 surgical masks. Some of these masks are not even surgical masks with dust masks , 2 ply masks advertising as surgical masks . The former does not offer much resistance against virus droplets and are as good as using tissue paper to cover your mouth.


Similarly, we found a retailer targeting Mothers selling the masks at a whopping $70 for a box of 50. That is an increase of almost 1000% off the original price. Given that it is a shop targeting at family, it is rather unethical to raise the prices to this level.

Buying from these website does not guarantee delivery either. My purchase from Lazada and Qoo10 were cancelled citing no stocks when the items were still available for sale at a higher price.

Independent Online Sellers

Be wary too of independent sellers. When you buy through an online retail platform such as Lazada and Qoo10, there is an option to open dispute if the purchases are a fraud. If you buy from an independent reseller and it is a fraud case, getting your money back is near impossible. In any case, it is not cheap too, with many pricing at USD 30 per pack.

You can read about fake website selling masks here

The Penalty
Companies who profiteer will be questioned and provide a reason for the high prices.
Companies who fail to do so could be liable to a fine of up to S$10,000 for the first offence and up to S$20,000 for the second and subsequent offences. Unfortunately, there are those that still go under the radar to continue their unscrupulous pricing.

To help the authorities, make a report to Case by calling 6100-0315

What is the market price
At this point, you would be wondering, what should we pay for masks?
It depends. If you could get your hands on masks from Unity, Guardian or even Valu$ Shops, they are still retailing at a reasonable price of below $20 per box of 50. Otherwise expect to pay on average price of $25 per box .

At the same time, for someone who requires mask urgently and would need it in the course of work, paying $100 for the same box may be Hobson's Choice.

The best way to secure yourselves masks is to arm yourselves with information on where to get them. For that reason, we recommend you to follow Singapore Atrium Sales due to their speedy and regular updates on Mask Availability. With these updates, you would find yourselves having a better chance to get the masks you need.

If you want to be aware of who's potentially profiteering, this recently set up FB page - SG Blacklist Profiteering Retailers will keep you update

There is an ongoing debate on face mask being essential at this time. We reckoned if you are planning to head to a large gathering or if you are facing many people every day in your line of work, wearing a mask is prudent. If you are merely sending your child to school, it may be excessive.

Do use your masks wisely, if not we would run out of mask before we know it. Other than the mask, washing hands is equally if not more important as virus can be transmitted via touching of objects.

Last but not least...

Stay Safe.

Related Readings

How to tell your mask is a Surgical Mask

Beware of Fake Website Selling Surgical Mask

List of Confirmed Coronavirus in Singapore

1 comment:

  1. I hope everyone realizes that the rise in the price of masks is the best way to incentivise an increase in the production of more masks and the appropriate rationing of the current mask supply. Demanding that retailers not raise their prices when mask stocks dwindle and encouraging governments to supply masks at below market prices will just worsen and prolong the shortage. Which is something that I don't think anyone wants.


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