Retailers say price increases of basic commodities are being exaggerated, particularly on social media, while a survey conducted by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe shows the cost of mealie-mealie, rice, milk and laundry soap actually dropped in the January to August period.
Bread and margarine prices remained flat in the review period.
According to CCZ data, the price of washing powder dropped 8c from $1,54 to $1,46.
There was a decline in prices of tea leaves and laundry soap by 6c and 4c respectively, while super refined mealie-meal and rice prices tumbled seven percent and five percent in that order.
Milk prices fell two percent on improved raw milk supplies.
Sugar and flour bucked the trend, as prices rose marginally from $1,93 and $1,94 to $2,19 and $2 correspondingly. Salt prices rose 1c in the period under review.
In an interview last week, Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said imported goods were pricier than locally produced commodities.
Price increases, he maintained, were being overplayed on social media to cause alarm.
“Price increases are not as high as what we are seeing on social media. A lot of what is on social media is aimed at causing unnecessary alarm. We are engaging continuously with stakeholders on the value chain to ensure prices remain steady,” he said.
Mr Mutashu said there was no need to panic as the situation was under control.
He said the movement in some prices was linked to foreign currency shortages, which have forced some manufacturers and producers to resort to the black market.
In 2016, Government promulgated Statutory Instrument 64, which restricts the import of goods that can ordinarily be locally produced.
The tariffs affected at least 43 products from the Open General Import Licence list, like body creams, coffee creamers, cereals, tinned foods, dairy produce and potato crisps.
Mr Mutashu said local manufacturers should improve both the quantity and quality of goods to counter pricey imports.
He said the retail sector was experiencing growing aggregate demand for basic commodities, a sign of economic recovery.
“We are witnessing growing demand of basic commodities. Increased consumption is a sign of a growing economy. Demand on its own is an indication that positive progress is taking place economy-wise,” he said.
Mr Mutashu implored people to desist from panic-buying.