Council urges consumers to plan their shopping

20/05/2010 08:54

The Consumer Council of Fiji would like to urge consumers to plan their shopping wisely before heading to supermarkets as this could help them save money and buy better quality items. This advice comes after the recent increases in fuel and basic food prices. In April this year, the price of local butter increased by almost 52% while this month price of local chicken rose because of the gradual removal of price control. In addition to this, early this week the price of kerosene, diesel and premix outboard fuel has also shot up by 10cents a litre. This increase will further push up the prices of food items.

Regular price survey of the Council reveals that in the past four months, the prices of dairy products, wheat, rice, cooking oil and tinned fish has also increased compared to last year. Food is not the only item that has seen increases in price but the cost of basic services has also soared. For example the cost of local call charges for all post paid residential telecom customers has also increased from 12 to 16 cents per call. With virtually no increase or stagnant wages and salaries, consumers are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Hence the Council would like to urge all consumers to close scrutinize their spending. Grocery bills make up significant portion of household expenses and consumers can do a lot here to reduce their food bills and increasing savings. With moderate planning consumers can shop more economically and reduce their food bills considerably. It is advisable for consumers to take time to do a quick inventory of their kitchen to determine the food they need, prepare their shopping lists, read newspapers to find best deals before heading off the supermarkets.

One of the costly habits prevalent in most consumers is impulse buying which makes deep holes in their pockets. Avoiding spontaneous trips is one of the best deterrents to impulse buying. Sticking to a well thought-out shopping list will help consumers cut down on grabbing for things that they do not need. In addition, consumers should also give themselves time to shop to help prevent dashing in and reaching for the first item that they come across.

Another costly habit of consumers is that majority of them are easily lured by various marketing ploys designed to draw their attention and end spending huge amounts to money buying unnecessary goods. Knowing some tricks of trade such dollar deposits, freebies etc will help consumers save money.

Council’s experience has also shown that almost 70% of the consumers do not closely scrutinize or read labels. By reading labels consumers get a better idea of the content of the product and they can get better value for their money. Most consumers also do not watch the scanners closely. This is no place to get lax as keeping eyes peeled to the scanner has dual advantages. First, it will keep the cashier more alert and secondly it will also allow consumers to stop the checkout process if an item is showing the incorrect price.

While consumers have rights they are also obliged to be responsible and avoid wastage. Watching a family’s wastage and becoming aware of how much food a family wastes will help a consumer tailor what he/she buys to meet what the family actually eats. Acquiring good budgeting skills and responsible spending habits will help consumers save for their rainy days and avoid getting into huge unnecessary debts.