Retail and wholesale sector grows

HARARE – The retail and wholesale sector has grown 5.1 percent this year despite the challenges posed mainly by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) has said.

This was revealed on Thursday night by the CZR president Mr Denford Mutashu at the top 200 retail and wholesale value chain leaders’ awards for 2021.

He said most players were affected by the disruption of supply and value chains, Covid-19 mitigation costs, low trading hours, with other retail sub-sectors forced to shut down totally.

“This affected sales and growth plans in the sector,” said Mr Mutashu.

“But I would like to applaud our leaders in the sector for showing resilience and patriotic love for our motherland by going to lengths to ensure that our retail and wholesale sector grow to the projected level of 5.1 percent this year.

“Our leaders in the sector have demonstrated strong leadership under such a difficult time, to protect consumers and other stakeholders while coming up with strategies for the industry to stay afloat,” said Mr Mutashu.

The growth for the retail and wholesale sector vindicates the Government, which had earlier projected the transformation of the country’s fortunes.

In his 2021 budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, estimated a growth of 7,4 percent.

The World Bank this year commended the Government’s economic revival framework and noted that Zimbabwe is poised to register economic growth this year despite a raft of challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Zimbabwe was projected to grow by 3.9 percent in 2021, in what the World Bank said was a significant improvement after a two-year depression.

Earlier, the African Development Bank projected a 5,6 percent economic growth this year was driven by the recovery in the agriculture, mining, and tourism sectors, together with increased public and private investments.

According to the World Bank Zimbabwe Economic Update (ZEU), the growth will be led by the good harvests on the agricultural front, adaptations to the Covid-19 disruptions as well as controlled inflation.

Mr Mutashu implored those in the retail and wholesale sector to attend to the concerns of consumers.

“We are also quite alive to the Consumer Protection Act which is now in force to protect consumers of goods and services by ensuring a fair, efficient, sustainable and transparent marketplace for consumers and business.

“This Act also compels us to continue striving for excellence and best practices, while making sure that the customer is always king and queen,” said Mr Mutashu.

He noted some of the concerns within the sector like “high costs of rentals making it unsustainable for the retail sector to do business, the high duty on diesel which is making fuel more expensive than in other countries in the region.”

Mr Mutashu also spoke on reducing the value-added tax on rice which he said remained high despite being “partly addressed by SI 125 of 2021.”

“The retail sector also faces high import duties for a number of products such as clothing apparels, shoes, cell phone gadgets, electrical goods, hardware goods, among others, which also adds to higher prices for consumer-facing low disposable incomes.”