While grocery prices increased in the first week of lockdown, shopping for essential food and other items actually grew cheaper over recent weeks, a new study by Statistics SA shows. On average, prices of essential products fell by 0.5% during April.
But there were a couple of outliers. The price of eggs rocketed by almost 20% over the past month, with some producers struggling to keep up with demand during lockdown as South Africans turned to baking and preparing their own food. Cake flour prices jump by 6.8% in April, and cooking oil increased by 5.4%.
Dishwashing liquid prices rose by 5.4% in April, also amid strong demand. With more people cooking at home and eating in, Shoprite and Checkers told Business Insider that there’s been a “noticeable and sustained increase” in the sale of dishwashing liquid and tablets.
“Customers who own dishwashers tend to buy a pack of dishwashing tablets, along with a bottle of dishwashing liquid. This points to the dishwasher doing the majority of the washing, with the liquid for hand washing smaller odds and ends,” a spokesperson said.
The increased use of dishwashers has also seen a spike in sales of associated products, such as dishwashing salt and rinse aids, at these stores.
Toilet cleaner prices rose by more than 4%, while the average price increase of household detergents was 1.1% in April, Statistics SA found. Interestingly, bath soap prices fell by almost 8% over the month. Shampoo and toothpaste prices also dropped by around 5%.
Mince prices rose by 7.2% in April, but on the whole prices for meat products fell by 1% in the month. Pork prices fell, while prices for frozen chicken decreased by 5.3%. Frozen hake prices dropped by 1.5%.
Bread and cereal prices fell by 0.5% over the month, with rice down 4% and mielie meal 0.1% lower. Fruit and vegetable prices ended the month lower by 3.2% and 4.6% respectively.
While Statistics SA makes the point that its study of essential good prices during lockdown isn’t a forecast of April’s CPI, the overall fall in prices does indicate an absence of inflation pressure in the economy. This should allow the monetary policy committee, which is meeting this week, to cut interest with ease.
Source: Statistics SA