The Sunday Mail
It does not matter whether one is a prudent shopper or a careless spender: this year everyone has to stretch their budgets due to rampant price hikes.
Statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe show that year-on-year inflation in October at 2,24 percent — significantly higher than the — 0,95 percent recorded in October 2016.
While official figures for November and December 2017 are yet to be released, global indicators such as Trading Economics forecast the year to close with inflation closer to three percent than it was at the same time last year.
Three percent may not sound like much, but observers say the cumulative cost will be noticeable.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe recently spoke of 3,16 percent increase in the cost of living in November for a family of six.
“The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s low income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six increased from the end-October figure of US$593,55 to US$598,16 by end-November 2017, showing an increase of US$4,61 or 0,72 percent,” reads the report.
“The food basket increased by US$4,62 or 3,16 percent from US$146,12 by end-October to US$150,74 by end-November 2017.”
Increases were recorded in roller meal, sugar, tea leaves, fresh milk, rice and cabbage to mention a few.
“Official surveys show subtle price increases and in most cases, by just a little percentage margin,” said Ms Nancy Mwale a local event planner and caterer. “But if you look closely, you will realise that the prices have increased by as much as 50 percent and sometimes 100 percent.
“For example live chickens were costing only US$5 around April but most are selling them for US$7 now.
“So if you add that US$2 increase to another US$2 increase in, let’s say, cooking oil or rice, then you realise that by the time you finish shopping for your festive groceries you have spent shockingly more than you expected.”
Ms Mwale said the shortage of cash has made the situation worse.
“If you consider that we have cash shortage and retailers are charging extra for electronic transactions then the cost can only go higher and higher,” she said.
“Therefore we are encouraging people to buy wisely, they can take advantage of markets such as Mbare Musika to buy things like vegetables and chicken at lower costs. Abattoirs and Wholesalers are also relatively cheaper for those buying in bulk.”
CCZ executive director Ms Rosemary Siyachitema blasted unscrupulous retailers who were increasing prices merely on speculation saying Government should look closely into the matter.
“As CCZ, we assume the increase in prices could be attributed to various factors, these including fluctuation of fuel price, multi-tier pricing by retailers.
“Some supermarkets have taken advantage of these situations by increasing the prices of basic commodities by small amounts such as 1c, 2c, 3c to 40c and consumers are not able to notice the change.
“The increase in prices could also be attributed to the festive season where retailers take advantage of consumers having much to spend. The use of mobile money has also been noted as attributing to an increase in basic commodities especially at retail shops that do not have merchant codes and charge an extra percentage on goods,” she said recently.
CCZ said avian flu and banning of poultry from South Africa had contributed to increases in prices of commodities.
“The CCZ continues to encourage consumers to shop conscientiously and to always buy certified products.
“Where the products are not certified, to exercise their right to information by carefully examining if the products they are purchasing are well labelled, packaged and provided with vital information such as manufacturing and expiry dates and ingredients used in the make-up of the products,” the CCZ said.
December 2017 inflation will likely be the highest in six years since December 2011, and price hikes are increasingly looking like the Grinch trying to steal Christmas.