Home South African Dis-Chem found to have hiked face mask prices by 261%

Dis-Chem found to have hiked face mask prices by 261%

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The competition body said the average price increases between February and March on the products ranged between 43% and 261%.

JOHANNESBURG – South African pharmaceutical group Dis-Chem has been referred to the Competition Tribunal after an investigation following complaints from consumers about its pricing of dust and surgical masks, the commission said on Thursday.

“This referral (to the Competition Tribunal) follows an investigation by the Commission which found that Dis-Chem has charged excessive prices on essential hygienic goods to the detriment of customers and consumers,” the commission said in a statement.

The competition body said the average price increases between February and March on the products ranged between 43% and 261%. 

This comes after StatsSA said that it will cost more to put food on the table after South Africa’s food price inflation accelerated to 4.4% year on year (y/y) in March, from 4.2% y/y in the previous month. The key drivers behind this uptick were meat, fruit, milk, eggs and cheese.

Despite this increase however, according to Statistics SA, the annual consumer price index (CPI) inflation nudged lower to 4.1% in March, down from 4.6% in February, ending a run of increases since November.

CPI is calculated based on the weighted average price of a basket of goods and services, but because all data for the CPI are collected in the first three weeks of each month, data collection for March was completed before the lockdown.

Stats SA chief director for price statistics Patrick Kelly said: “The lockdown regulations in effect till the beginning of May have dramatically restricted the goods and services available for purchase by consumers.”

REUTERS – Additional reporting by Business Report.