According to reports by Sunday News they have been a rise in informal shops that take only cash in Bulawayo. These shops have proven popular as they charge as much as 50% less compared to what formal supermarkets are charging.

  • 2kg of sugar is selling for $20 bond while compared to $30+ informal supermarkets
  • Rice is selling for $21 compared to up to $38 in formal shops
  • Mazoe Orange crush original is selling for $30 in these shops as opposed to almost $50 in formal shops
  • Cooking oil is going for $34 bond per 2 litres
  • Mealie-meal is selling for $40

Cash is cheaper since most goods are being imported

Being a state publication the Sunday News obviously does not approve of the practice of only accepting cash. However one of the vendors they interviewed gave an eloquent explanation of why and how their business works.

We sell in cash only because cash has also become some sort of commodity. But the main reason is that we can buy foreign currency at lower rates using cash from the streets and this allows us to restock especially on imported products. On local products we can sell the cash first then go and order by money transfer or swipe.

Thanks to the 2% tax and shortages, cash is now actually a commodity too. While the Sunday News blames vendors for cash shortages, the truth of the matter is that the RBZ does not want to print more cash for fear of fueling inflation and also because they want to continue to pretend that things are OK and there is no inflation. Yet $5, the biggest note, cannot buy you much these days. You need 3 of those to buy a loaf of bread.

Customers love these shops it seems

These shops are cheap and offer us a relief. Sometimes, it is better to look for the cash and buy from these shops than go to these big supermarkets. Yes, the big supermarkets allow us to swipe and use EcoCash but it’s a double tragedy. Apart from high prices there are high bank charges and taxes that we pay when we use electronic money. So if I get for example $50 from the bank, I can buy more goods from these shops than when I use the same amount in big shops through electronic payments.

One of the customes only had good things to say.