Parents were yesterday left stranded as many retail shops hiked prices of groceries as school opens today. A survey conducted by NewsDay yesterday showed that retail shops had significantly inflated prices on uniforms and basic groceries.
Parents who spoke to NewsDay expressed disgruntlement over the price hikes. Nomsa Vhengeya, who was shopping for her Form Two child, said the prices were ridiculous.
“Toothpaste which normally goes for $1, 20 is being sold for $1, 70. Even the price of the biscuits has also gone up. How come they increase the price by almost 30% overnight?” she asked.
Another parent, Godfrey Moyo, who wanted to buy school uniform for his child said the money he had budgeted for the uniform was no longer enough as the price had been hiked.
“I came here window shopping last Thursday and today (yesterday) I bring with me the cash to buy the uniform only to find they have changed the price,” he complained.
Retailers defended their actions saying the price hike had coincided with the opening of schools, but was really due to the introduction of duty on basic commodities.
“As management we agreed that we were going to increase the price once the stock we had imported with no duty was over. Ironically, the new stock coincided with opening of the schools and people are saying we have hiked the price,” said one manager of a giant retail shop in Harare.
Parents complained that public transporters had also increased fares.
Kombis plying different routes yesterday unilaterally increased bus fares. A trip from Harare to Chinhoyi which usually cost $3 had doubled yesterday. Kombi drivers said their employers demanded they meet “high targets” at the end of school holidays because they knew pupils would be returning to schools.
Executive director of Consumer Council of Zimbabwe Rosemary Siyachitema urged retailers to practice business ethics and not to hike prices as they wished. Siyachitema also urged consumers not to resort to last-minute buying as they risked being taken advantage of.