Zim retailers scale down product orders due to price uncertainties

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By Alois Vinga

INDIVIDUAL retailers have differed with Business Member Organisations (BMOs) they are affiliated to on pricing disparities currently obtaining on the ground.

Retailers maintain that most basic commodity prices continued rising while business groups are of the contrary view.

This emerged during a short survey by NewZim Business on the goings on within the country’s retail sector in the wake of recent fuel price increases, coupled with similar increase in US dollar rates on the black market.

It has emerged that most retail outlets are struggling to restock following a move by unsettled manufacturers and wholesalers to either increase their own prices or are simply holding on to commodities through uncertainty on where the pricing situation was heading to.

“We have not been able to secure adequate stocks and the products we are selling are mostly from the old stocks,” said one top supermarket manager who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Most manufacturers have since increased prices of their products and in some instances, we have had to turn down orders due to high prices which we may not be able recoup from customers.”

A buyer with another top retail outlet in the country said that the situation was so dire to a point of threatening jobs within the retail sector.

“Compared to the month of December, we are operating at minus 20 percent because demand for products is also going down as prices continue to rise beyond affordability.

“Across the sector, the price hikes have deterred some retailers from accepting products due to fear of backlash which will be blamed on retailers should prices rise,” he said.

Reached for comment, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Sifelani Jabangwe could neither deny nor confirm the price hikes.

“I am not aware of any price hikes and I think that the few instances where this has happened could be influenced by the current fluctuations in exchange rates at the black market,” he said.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Denford Mutashu said price increases were most prevalent in areas hard hit by recent looting incidents by demonstrators.

“We have not received the information pertaining to returning of orders,” he said.

“Prices have largely remained relatively stable except for selected dairy products.

“The wave of price increases has been reported in areas that were looted and vandalised as informal traders are taking advantage of the temporary death of the sector since most players are finding it next to impossible to recover.”