THE local retail landscape is undergoing a remarkable transformation as retailers respond to the strengthening of the local currency against the US dollar by slashing prices on various items.
This favourable exchange rate development has prompted major retail outlets to prominently display daily reduced rates and offer consumers a range of convenient payment options.
A glimpse into leading supermarkets in Gweru reveals an encouraging decrease in prices denominated in Zimbabwean dollars.
For instance, a 2kg packet of rice, which was previously priced at approximately $19 000, now ranges between $14 000 and $15 500.
Similarly, a kg of Cremora coffee and tea creamer has experienced a significant price drop from $48 000 to $37 000.
Furthermore, a 10kg bag of maize roller meal, once sold for around $56 772, can now be purchased for $39 239.
The downward trend continues with other pantry staples as well.
A 1kg packet of sugar has seen its price decline from $15 200 to $10 680, while that of a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil has dropped from $28 600 to a range of $17 000 to $22 000, depending on the brand.
These price adjustments are proving beneficial to consumers who are now able to stretch their budgets further.
In recent days, the Zimbabwe dollar has exhibited considerable strength to reach an average exchange rate of $4 771 against the US dollar on Tuesday.
This positive development has left room for further improvement and provides an optimistic outlook for consumers.
However, despite the favourable currency trends, some consumers are expressing dissatisfaction with the pace at which retailers are reducing prices.
Mrs Emmah Phiri from the Woodlands suburb in Gweru points out that while shops were quick to implement price hikes during the depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar, they are not matching that speed when it comes to reducing prices as the currency appreciates. Consumers expect retailers to swiftly pass on the benefits of a stronger currency, allowing them to feel the positive impact sooner.
“Last week shops were moving with speed to implement price hikes following the depreciation of the Zim dollar, but we don’t see the same speed in reducing prices as the dollar appreciates.
“They should do what they were doing with speed so that we also feel the impact,” said Mrs Phiri.
Mr Denford Mutashu, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR), acknowledged that prices have stabilised in both currencies, with noticeable declining trends as the local currency gains strength against the US dollar. Mr Mutashu stressed the importance of continuing efforts to improve the business environment, creating a solid foundation for the economy.
“The stability brought about by Government measures points to a positive outlook for consumers. There is a need to continue improving the doing business environment to ground a firm footing for the economy,” he said.
Mr Mthokozisi Nkosi, the chairperson of the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), welcomed the decline in prices of basic commodities, highlighting its positive impact on consumer purchasing power.
“This is a welcome development. We applaud the retail sector for being sensitive to the plight of consumers by adjusting their prices in line with the appreciating ZW$. It restores the previously eroded consumer purchasing power. This is the behaviour, conduct and fairness expected in the market to bring back consumer confidence. A happy consumer guarantees business success,” he said.
Mr Nkosi reminded consumers to remain vigilant while shopping for basic commodities and to exercise their rights to obtain real value for their money.
“The market-place remains a jungle. It is not every business that is ethical, moral or want to play by the book and comply with the law. Hence, we encourage consumers to shop around, bargain and exercise their rights whenever they look for products and services.
“We expect them to be aware of various goods and services available in the market so that an intelligent and wise choice can be made. Read labels carefully so as to have information about prices, net weight, manufacturing and expiry dates,” he said.
Mr Nkosi encouraged consumers to prioritise standardised goods that come with quality assurance, look for quality marks and certifications, and familiarise themselves with the risks associated with products and services. He also advised consumers to always ask for cash receipts as proof of purchase in case of any future disputes.