Good news for Zimbabwe shoppers – prices are finally dropping after months of crippling inflation. After government crackdowns on unscrupulous businesses, retailers have started passing on gains from a firming Zimbabwe dollar.
The Zim dollar has strengthened for the third week running at the forex auction while the black market rate has fallen sharply. This is putting pressure on businesses to reduce prices in local currency to attract customers.
A Sunday News survey found shops cutting prices of staples like sugar and bread. Bread in some retail shops which was being sold for as high as ZWL$7 500 to ZWL$9 000 was now down to a range of ZWL$6 000. The price of 2kg of sugar which had gone to between ZWL$25 000 and ZWL$30 000 is now ranging between ZWL$18 000 and ZWL$20 000, among other reductions in prices of basic commodities.
The retail boss Denford Mutashu praised businesses slashing prices: “Let’s see more falls in line with stable exchange rates and other measures.”
Even state agency Zinara has lowered toll and license fees following the currency’s gains.
However, some critics say government penalties and crackdowns – not market forces – are really bringing prices down.
Still, consumers are cheering the drops. “I can finally afford things!” said 34-year-old Samantha Ndlovu. “About time prices match the Zim dollar.”
Economists predict the trend of lower prices could continue if stability holds. But for how long? Some weary shoppers won’t celebrate until inflation is dead and buried for good.