THE cost of living in Zimbabwe skyrocketed by ZW$324 to ZW$7 171 by the end of April last month due to an increase in fuel prices, limited supply of some basic products as well as panic buying by consumers because of the Covid-19 lockdown, a Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) report has revealed.
At the end of March, the figure stood at ZW$6 846,80.
The report comes at a time when the economic crisis is deepening characterised by a crippling liquidity crunch, fuel and foreign currency shortages, low capacity utilisation and runaway inflation which stood at 676,39% for March. This has been worsened by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.A survey conducted by the CCZ showed that the cost of living for a family of six shot up by 4,74% to ZW$7 171 in April.
The food basket increased by 4,61% to ZW$4 116,55 while the price of detergents increased by 58,35% to ZW$388,17.Almost all basic commodities in the period under review registered an increase. These include margarine, sugar, tea leaves, fresh milk, flour, rice, onions, cabbage, salt, meat, bath soap, laundry bar and washing powder.
Decreases were only recorded in mealie-meal, cooking oil, bread and tomatoes. The increase in the cost of living came as a shocker for many citizens whose monthly incomes hardly go beyond ZW$3 000.
To make matters worse, a number of them have been given half salaries due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown.“As CCZ, we assume that the increase in the total figure of the basket can be attributed to the influence of the parallel market on exchange rates, increase in fuel prices, limited supply of some basic products and panic buying by consumers because of the lockdown,” reads part of the report.
“There has been a decline in productivity by firms in the market due to the negative impacts of the coronavirus but consumers have increased their demand of certain products in fear of future shortages,”
The CCZ said mandatory restrictions like the lockdown required citizens to stay at home in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus but on the other hand, these measures had triggered the panic buying leading to an increase in the price of most basic products.
The consumer lobby group urged people to always seek a fair deal at the marketplace by ensuring that their rights are observed, as well as reporting any anomalies.
Where the products were not certified, consumers were urged to exercise their right to information by carefully examining if the products they were purchasing were well-labelled, packaged and provided with vital information such as manufacturing and expiry dates and ingredients used in the making of the products.The consumer lobby group conducts a survey during the first and the last week of every month.
The price of each commodity was arrived at by averaging prices gathered from retail outlets throughout the country.