Seasonal factors hold consumer basket

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The cost of the consumer basket for a family of six for the month of June declined by $0,10 as seasonal factors, especially cut-throat promotions by leading retail chains, upped competition and forced prices down, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has said.
This means the numbers obtained by the local consumer watchdog’s survey tell us very little about the direction inflation is taking since prices adjusted back or even higher soon after the promotions.
The Central Statistical Office is likely to capture this month-on-month seasonal trend in its June inflation figures.
According to CCZ, the consumer basket, comprising foodstuffs, soaps and detergents, transport, rent, utility bills, clothing and footwear and health and education fees, decreased to $481,01 in June from $481,11 in May.
During the month, the price of food stuffs alone fell 0,01% to $126, 43 from $127, 18 in May.
The basket for transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear remained steady at $344. Despite persistent supply problems, particularly in low-income suburbs around major cities, water bills continue to be a major household cost, eroding disposable incomes.
“CCZ attributes the decrease in the May basket to promotions being run by different supermarkets such as Afrofoods’ ‘dreams come true promotion’, TM Supermarkets’ ‘official sponsor of low low prices’, Spar ‘real deals’ and Spar Arundel which has introduced clubs whereby members receive a certain discount when purchasing goods. This has enhanced competition on the market place.”
The marginal decrease in the consumer basket was also a result of an increase in the retail flow of locally-manufactured commodities.
“In surveys carried out in supermarkets around towns in CCZ’s different regions, it was evident that local goods were readily available on the shelves and these included basic food and non-food stuffs from the traditional manufacturers. Goods available included sugar, tea leaves, mealie meal, cereals, toilet paper, salt, bathing soap, petroleum jellies, flour, rice, cooking oil, biscuits, eggs, kapenta and many other goods.”
Local manufacturers of fast moving consumer goods are struggling to raise plant capacity utilisation significantly beyond the 32% reported by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries in October last year.
Working capital shortages and low aggregate domestic demand arising from low incomes top the list of major deterrents cited by industrialists.
CCZ also urged retailers to increase the ratio of in-house brands to cater for the lowly-paid.