Now that we’re moving to alert level 3 from June 1, a number of industries will be able to resume business.
Some sectors under alert level 5 and alert level 4, however, suffered massive deficits in revenue, amounting to job losses or reduced incomes for their employees.
This, alongside a recession and economic downturn, means that many South Africans are living day to day, or relying on food parcels to sustain themselves and their families.
To add to this burden, food prices appear to be on the rise.
A research report compiled by Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity (PMBEJD) says that the cost of a Household Food Basket has increased by 7,8%% (R250) between March 2020 and May 2020.
Over the past two months, covering the period pre-lockdown (22 March) to 4 May 2020 , the price of the PMBEJD Household Food Basket increased by R249,92 (77,8%%), taking the total cost of the basket in May 2020 to R3 470,92 (from R3 221,00 in March 2020).
The PMBEJD food basket contains basic staples like rice, flour, sugar, and bread, alongside fruit and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and so forth.
Restrictions have meant that with children and workers at home, food runs out quicker (after two weeks) and women can no longer shop around for the cheapest prices.
Our research suggests that families living on low incomes may be spending 30% (R973,93) more on food in May 2020 than they did two months ago.
Government’s decisions on responding to the pandemic via hard lockdown and the specific regulations related to these, is impacting and changing expenditure patterns and consumer behaviours of households living on low incomes very significantly.
In poorer communities, some families, with no savings to draw on, are turning to loan sharks at interest rates of up to 40%.
Here’s a breakdown of the price hikes on basic food items:
Fruit and vegetables
The following table breaks down changing household expenditure patterns and costs in May 2020:
The basket on May 4 comes to R3 470,92 – which is more than the National Minimum Wage of a worker (R3 321,60).
Price increases are likely to affect all South Africans, not least of which those whose income was already stretched to its limits on a monthly basis.
If South Africa hopes to emerge from this health crisis in one piece, we’ll need to start work on an economy that serves society.
You can read the full PMBEJD report, here.
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