Eggcessive price hikes for Easter treats in virus-hit Italy

Chocolate eggs are an Easter tradition in many countries

The price of Easter chocolates and cakes have spiked online in Italy, a consumer protection group warned on Tuesday as the country prepares to celebrate the upcoming holiday in lockdown.

Price hikes of up to 168 percent on Easter treats have been seen online, Federconsumatori said, calling on the government to crack down on price gouging.

Italy, one of the world's coronavirus hotspots, has imposed strict confinement measures and Italians are restricted to shopping at the stores closest next to them.

Online shopping and delivery has exploded as people avoid going out.

Prices on festive items purchased by many Italians for Easter, an important holiday in the Catholic country, have only risen modestly in stores, however, according to Federconsumatori.

The price of a "Colomba di Pasqua," a Panettone-like cake in the form of a dove eaten at Easter costs on average 9.69 euros ($10.50) in a physical store but can reach prices of 19.90 euros or even 19.99 euros online, the group said in a statement.

The same phenomenon has been seen with chocolate eggs, which have seen an average 37 percent markup online versus stores. Some prices have been marked up as much as 168 percent, said Federconsumatori, which called the price hikes "unacceptable".

"Not only will families have to face a subdued Easter and often full of anguish and suffering, but they will also have to deal with the economic repercussions that this emergency is already causing, which make the price increases of food and typical products even more serious, as well as the speculative attitudes of some online sellers," the group said.

Similar price hikes have already been seen online since the coronavirus crisis began, particularly with items such as protective masks and disinfecting gel and wipes.

Chocolate eggs are an Easter tradition in many countries