Major supermarkets in Harare are now closing early, a move retailers say is meant to contain operating costs.
With Government recently suspending Statutory Instrument 122 which banned imports of goods, it remains to be seen if supermarkets will continue with the trend which has been criticised by consumers.
Some supermarkets, including Pick n Pay, OK Zimbabwe and Spar Athienitis, which used to close at 8pm or later, are now shutting their doors about two or three hours earlier.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu confirmed the development.
He said supermarkets were closing late because basic commodities largely demanded by customers were readily available.
This is despite long queues that are witnessed in the major retail outlets on a daily basis.
“The backbone of the wholesale and retail sector are those main basic commodities which are scarce these days,” he said.
“They are very key to the smooth flow of business and customer traffic in the shops, as these are what draws them into spending.”
Mr Mutashu said some supermarkets have on shifts.
“So, it then becomes difficult for the wholesaler or retailer to keep on operating for long hours meeting operating costs, yet there is not much revenue coming in,” he said. “Some have even reduced on double shifts and now have one shift.”
Mr Mutashu said this was part of cost-cutting measures by the retailers.
“Hence, in times of shortages like this, retailers have found it noble for them to implement cost-cutting measures in response to the unavailability of goods,” he said.
“We do hope that the situation will improve following Government’s amendment of the Statutory Instrument (SI) 122 of 2017 to allow companies and individuals to import specified basic commodities that are in short supply.”