Some Zimbabweans are experiencing sticker shock this festive season as they make the rounds of stores and find steep price increases for basic commodities such as maize meal, sugar and cooking oil.
An informal survey of consumers suggested many retailers have boosted prices across the board, according to some seeking a larger share of yearend bonuses received by the relatively small number of Zimbabweans fortunate enough to have jobs.
Masvingo resident Tonderai Kuvheya said the price of sugar has risen 50 cents to US$2.50, a 25 percent increase just in the past week. He said such price moves have put many basic food items out of reach for poorer Zimbabweans.
“The majority of people will not afford to buy most of these commodities during and after the festive season,” Kuvheya said.
Across the country, Bulawayo resident Sibasa Tshuma confirmed the trend.
“Retailers are increasing prices of basic commodities as if we are still using the worthless Zimbabwe dollar,” Tshuma said, adding that the government should intervene "to ensure that sanity prevails in the retail sector.”
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe Bulawayo Regional Manager Comfort Muchekeza said food price rises rises are being driven by recent increases in gasoline prices.
But economist James Wade said price increases have become a tradition in the festive season, though he acknowledged various other factors are at play.
“We expect the price increases to slow down after the festive season as most people will have little disposable income,” Wade told reporter Gibbs Dube.