Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu told the Daily News yesterday that the price increases were a result of the steep cost of accessing foreign currency on the black market required to import raw materials.
Despite being a major producer of cotton, Zimbabwe is importing fabric, especially from the Far East, due to capacity constraints at key textile plants such as David Whitehead Textiles Limited in Chegutu.
“We have noticed that prices of uniforms have increased dramatically first before Christmas and now they have increased again. We were told by the manufacturers that they are sourcing foreign currency on the parallel market and that is worrisome,” said Mutashu.
“Getting foreign currency on the parallel market is triggering the price hikes because it attracts a huge premium,” he added.
A survey by the Daily News revealed that girls’ uniforms which were going for about $85 in November last year are now priced at between $150 and $400 (bond notes or RTGS) or US$25 to US$150 for those with greenbacks — depending on size.
At one of the popular retail outlet, prices for both boys and girls uniforms ranged between US$21 to US$100 for those with access to United States dollars or 80 and 400 in bond notes and RTGS.
School blazers which used to cost around $50 last year now cost between $300 and $400 (bond notes or RTGS) or US$150.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing astronomical price hikes since mid-last year due to a spike in foreign currency rates on the alternative market.
In November last year, Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu warned that parents should brace for a massive price hikes on school uniforms.
Ndlovu said a business executive had confided in him that there would be massive price hikes if a solution is not found to the current economic challenges.
“This last proposal was inspired by a conversation that I had with someone from the textile sector. They told me that we should expect school uniforms to rise by no less than 300 percent next year (2019),” Ndlovu said.
“They said that, as manufactures, they had not increased prices but from dispatch up to the last person who buys the product, prices were rising exponentially,” the Industry minister was quoted saying.
Tied to this development are increases in school fees by some schools as well as the ever-increasing prices of learning materials such as stationery. DailyNews.