The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo and Ngqwele Dube, Sunday News Reporters
RETAILERS have started feeling the pinch of their wanton price increases as consumers are now boycotting some of the products.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CRZ) president Mr Denford Mutashu said consumers were resisting purchasing some products which they think their price increase was unjustified culminating in drastic drop of sales at most retail outlets across the country.
“What we have is the situation that has attracted a lot of retribution from consumers and a lot of consumers have shown resistance by voting with their feet. They are not buying certain commodities, that’s the reason why we have seen demand slackening over a period of two months. So we believe consumers are justified in their resistance to most of the price increase wave that has affected the economy,” he said.
Mr Mutashu said acts of profiteering among local business was alarming and had since reached unprecedented levels.
“We also have other extreme cases where other suppliers have increased prices in US (United States) dollars. I can give an example of a detergent, which is now manufactured locally, I received reports from numerous retailers and wholesalers after the supplier or the manufacturer had increased from US$17 a box to US$30 a box. Surely you cannot increase the price of a commodity by more than 85 percent in US dollar terms, it’s something that is quite worrisome and may be viewed as unjustified by the consumers,” he said.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe Matabeleland regional manager Mr Comfort Muchekeza said consumer resistance can only yield results if the purchasing public have an alternative product to replace the one they initially intended to buy or when consumption of a particular commodity is reduced.
“The whole aspect of pricing has a bearing on consumers but I think there’s a need for the Government to come up with protective measures . . . ,” said Mr Muchekeza.
Meanwhile, millers are seeking to increase the price of mealie-meal by about 50 percent. Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe public relations officer Mr Garikai Chaunza confirmed that the organisation had received price increase proposals from its members during the two meetings it held in Harare and Bulawayo.
“We are still in the process of consulting and we will come up with the final figures at the end of next (this) week. We are engaging Government as a major stakeholder, as they give us a subsidy of 38 percent. But we would like to assure the nation the increase won’t be on the high side. Mealie-meal is the staple diet and we are cognisant of the repercussions of a high price increase,” he said.