A number of supermarkets in South Africa have been called into question this week, as shoppers raised their grievances with three of the major retailers in this country. Checkers and Pick n Pay have responded to claims that they are “taking advantage” of our current crisis with their increased prices.
Last month, the government had issued directives under the Disaster Management Act and regulations under both the Competition Act and Consumer Protection Act warning against this activity.
According to the regulations, prices may not exceed the increase in the cost of the raw material. The profit levels, he added, should not be hiked higher than in the period just before the period of the COVID-19.
Consumers at Checkers have also reported similar instances. Retail watchdogs have been made aware of the sporadic price hikes, one of which includes a seemingly steep rise in the cost of sunflower oil:
However, Checkers are adamant that they have not been taking advantage of the lockdown crisis. In a statement issued online, the retailer denied any attempt at price gouging, and said that variations in what items cost has been brought about from special offers coming to an end:
“We’ve made a commitment that we will not take advantage of the current increase in demand for products by increasing prices. You may see our employees change the shelf prices from time to time if a promotional cycle comes to an end and prices revert back to normal.”Checkers
Pick n Pay have also found themselves in the cross hairs of their customers:
Yoh hayi Lockdown prices are too much..— ? Yandiie Yaya? (@yaya_yandie) April 6, 2020
Pick n pay come on hle.. pic.twitter.com/IwwG081IiF
However, they’ve admitted directly that they have indeed raised prices in order to cover the costs of their new stock. Manufacturers have made their goods more expensive, and Pick n Pay didn’t beat around the bush:
“We are working hard with our suppliers to keep key products available and affordable. Where the cost price has gone up, we have unfortunately had to adjust the price to reflect the price paid to the manufacturer for new stock.”Pick n Pay