THE owners of a village shop who have suffered public backlash for increasing prices in response to panic buying have defended their decision.

The husband and wife, who run The Corner Shop in Gainford, near Darlington, were lambasted on social media this week after customers accused them of cashing in during the coronavirus crisis– tripling the price of essentials like soap, medicine and toilet roll.

Customers said they were disgusted after being charged £18.99 for a 16-pack of toilet roll, £4.50 for a pack of paracetamol and up to £11 for handwash.

Yesterday, when none of the items were marked with those prices, the couple said there is little profit in the business and they only put the price up on a few items which were in very short supply from their wholesaler.

Whilst they could not recall the exact profit margins they said they still 'only made a couple of pounds' on the toilet roll.

The Northern Echo:

The husband said: "There have been queues at supermarkets, empty shelves and people are selling these things on ebay.

"We travel to wholesalers at Team Valley and Stockton but cannot get everything, we're running out of things and if people don't want to pay they don't have to.

"We had sold cheaper rolls and tissues, price-marked.

"If they didn't want the other, they didn't buy it– it is consumer choice.

"Most people are happy because most of our products are price-marked.

"This is a family-run business. We are giving a good service for the village, we work 16 hour days, 365 days a year."

His wife said the situation was exaggerated on social media and led to people being aggressive in the shop, which they have had for seven years.

The Northern Echo:

She added: "About 90 per cent of our stock is price-marked and very cheap. This was about a very big pack of Andrex.

"We don't make big money, 10p on a pack of bread buns.

"Some people have been awful, I've had them threatening me, we've had to deal with shoplifting and not enough people support local businesses which is why so many have closed."

The couple's daughter, who is away studying medicine, told The Northern Echo she is scared for her parents because of the abuse they have faced.