We have noticed that over the past couple of weeks the USD prices of various basic commodities have gone down. Prices are certainly going down although they have not yet gone down to the levels in January 2022 before the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out. The fall in prices has probably been driven by a fall in fuel prices as well as the fact that aggregate demand has been rather low because wages and salaries have failed to keep up with rising inflation.

During our most recent survey we observed the following:

  • A 10kg sack of mealie-meal was going for around $US3.50 back in January, but after the war in Ukraine that went up to as high as US$5.00. Now 10kg of roller meal is costing between US$4.30 and US$4.80 in tuckshops.
  • Refined mealie-meal which is a bit more expensive was going for around US$4.50 back in January and the price went up to US$7 when the war broke out in Ukraine. Now the price is around US$5-US$5.50
  • 2 Litres of cooking oil was going for US$3.50-US$3.70 in January. In February when war broke out the price was now US$5.50-US$6.00. The price has now gone down to US$4.50 for a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil regardless of brand.
  • 2kg rice had gone up to US$2.50 in some tuckshops after the war broke out but it is now mostly back to its pre-war levels of around US$1.70 per 2kg.
  • 2kg of sugar was going for $2.00 in January and now it is selling for US$2.20 on average with some brands even selling for less than US$2.00. We saw a price as low as US$1.80 for a brand that was not Hullets
  • For washing powder, the most popular brands in tuckshops are Boom and MAQ. A 2kg of MAQ or Boom was going for US$3.50 before the war in Ukraine and the price went up to US$4.50. Now most retailers are selling both products at around US$3.50
  • Various flour brands were now selling at more than the standard price of US$2.00 per 2kg but now prices have gone back to these levels. In fact, we were able to buy flour at US$1.70 per 2kg from one retailer.
  • The price of toothpaste was now US$1.25 (typically expressed as US$1 and $100 ZWL by a lot of retailers). Now the price for 100ml of toothpaste is mostly back at $1.
  • A 2-litre bottle of Mazoe was now going for as much as US$4 but we were able to buy it for US$3 from various retailers.

NB These are just samples but a lot of products were now cheaper in most shops compared to their prices after February.

Buy USD Airtime

Zimbabwean dollar prices are another story

Things were a little different on the Zimbabwean dollar front. While we could still observe the fall in prices when we adequately accounted for the change in rates in nominal terms prices of most items had gone up. Although various people have claimed that prices are going down in Zimbabwean dollars we could not confirm this phenomenon. The only good news on the ZWL front is that most formal retailers have not changed their rates or prices for basic items. Shops are still using high rates of between $800 ZWL to $1 000 ZWL even though black market rates have gone down to $650 ZWL per dollar or even less.

It is not clear why this is the case but we made our best effort to analyse this habit in an earlier article. Sadly even the stability in black market rates has not made the ZWL more appealing to tuckshops which continue to refuse RTGS and swipe. They demand either ZWL cash at these same said steep rates. Some are more sly and will claim that their swipe machines are down and they are only taking cash. It is a story as old as our currency woes.