The cost of living as depicted by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) for a family of six for the month of January increased to $576,69 from $545,35 in December 2011 due to a steep rise in rentals.
The food basket for January rose to $164,16 from $162,94 while the food and detergents basket was up to $177,69 from $176,35 in December.
The consumer basket for transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear increased to $399 from $369 indicating a 0,08% increase.
The increase is attributed to the increase in rentals which is $180 from $150 per month ($60 per room) for the month of January, said CCZ.
It is anticipated in the compilation of the February basket, rentals will revert to December rates as per the directive of the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities.
On average the price of margarine went up by 19 cents, tea leaves by 20 cents, fresh milk by 6 cents, rice by 8 cents, onions by 29 cents, tomatoes by 9 cents, bathing soap by 1 cent and washing bars by 2 cents.
However CCZ expects a decrease in prices of basic commodities as result of the weakening of the South Africa rand against the United States dollar. Most retailers import their goods from South Africa.
CCZ also wants to see a downward movement of prices of basic commodities, especially when the rand has weakened against the dollar. Retailers are quick to increase prices when the rand strengthens against the dollar and yet they ignore it when it is then other way round, said the consumer watchdog.
CCZ added that local products were being produced and supplied at adequate levels to instil confidence in the public.
The consumer watchdog is expecting no major price hikes for basic commodities in the first half of the year following indications by millers they will not be increasing prices of mealie-meal.
The watchdog said increased capacity utilisation from the manufacturing sector would translate to more products on the shelves.