Game and Makro's parent company, Massmart, says it has decided to freeze prices on all essentials, save for fresh produce items, during the 21-day lockdown period.
The retail giant, which also owns Cambridge Foods, Rhino Cash & Carry and Jumbo stores (who all remain open to sell essentials during this period) said it would suspend "routine price adjustments".
The price adjustments are part of normal course of business for all retailers to pass – partially or fully – their supply chain inflation. For instance, Massmart estimated that it would achieve a 2.3% product inflation for 2020 when it announced its financial results in February.
But in a statement released at the weekend, the retail giant acknowledged that these are not normal times. "This is an unprecedented time for South Africa and the world. As we all come to terms with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must do everything we can to support our customers. We are grateful to our suppliers who support this principled position," said Massmart CEO, Mitchell Slape.
A communique to customers from Game shows that essential items whose prices would be frozen include all food and non-alcoholic beverages, baby formula and diapers, toiletries, multivitamins, pet foods and household cleaning products to name a few. But fresh produce, which is procured daily from the market, is not part of the price freeze.
Massmart is not alone in this. Shoprite has also promised that it will keep restocking its shelves without changing its prices "until the coronavirus is stopped". But the group said it has put all promotional advertising on hold.
Outside of the retail sector, banks, insurers and gyms have responded in different ways including gym membership freezes, allowing cover pauses and waiving ATM penalty fees at bank level.