The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) says it is concerned with supermarkets’ rent-seeking behaviour of increasing prices during every festive season, after noting fast-moving consumer goods had stoked the value of the consumer basket for a low-income household of six to about $500 this month.
Last month, the consumer basket was $498,53.
The consumer watchdog said the food basket for the month of December increased 1% to $144,19 from $142,77 in November.
According to the consumer report, the prices of tea leaves, fresh milk and cabbage increased by 5c, 9c and 10c respectively, while detergents maintained the same price.
The basket for transport, rent, water, electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear remained stagnant at $344.
“CCZ is concerned that the increase in the food basket may be attributed to the traditional behaviour of supermarkets to increase prices towards the festive season and also take advantage of that little bonus workers will receive in November, a behaviour which CCZ abhors,” CCZ said.
“They also offer promotions and specials with products sold at reduced prices, a tradition that is very welcome to consumers. Unfortunately, some retailers dupe consumers by selling expired goods or reductions which when scrutinised, are not reductions at all but the actual prices,” said CCZ.
The consumer watchdog also noted that supermarkets were reluctant to address the issue of change and that a majority of the players were still issuing sweets, matches and other items as change.
“The problem of change needs to be addressed urgently so as not to inconvenience consumers who need every cent they can have for transport and other needs. Some large supermarkets need to be congratulated for making change available to customers and all other outlets are encouraged to learn from them.”
CCZ said retail stocks of locally manufactured products had increased, though imports were still more competitive in terms of price.