The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) says some retail outlets reduced prices of basic grocery items by as much as 5 percent last week in response to the continued firming of the Zimbabwe dollar.
In May and June, the Zimbabwe dollar depreciated alarmingly and was trading at US$1:$6 713 on 16 June, before firming to US$1:$4 883 on Friday at the official interbank market.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, CPC chairperson Mthokozisi Nkosi said:
Major retail outlets are displaying the reduced rates on a daily basis and giving the consumer (a variety of) payment choices.
There has been a slight decrease in prices in Zimbabwe dollar terms, averaging 5 percent, against an expected drop of 20 percent, to be in line with the movement of the Zim dollar.
Shops were moving with speed to implement price hikes following the depreciation of the Zim dollar, but we don’t see the same speed in reducing prices as the dollar appreciates.
Nkosi noted that shops were arbitrarily increasing their US dollar prices. He said:
For example, in one retail outlet, a 500ml PET Coke was going for US$0,60 before the appreciation of the Zimdollar, but the same product is now going for US$0,77.
It appears the price increase is meant to compensate for the firming of the local currency.
Because of the marginal decrease of prices in Zimdollars, it is expensive for consumers to pay using US$ in these shops.
We are soon going to engage the business community and sector associations to understand the reasons behind the sudden increase in prices in US dollar terms.
According to the survey conducted by CPC last week, the price of a 10kg bag of maize roller meal which was being sold for around $56 772 in June, now costs $39 239.
The price of a 1kg packet of sugar fell from $15 200 to $10 680, and a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil from $28 600 last month to between $17 000 and $22 000 depending on the brand.
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