A dramatic increase in the price of fish contributed to a 2.5 per cent rise in consumer prices in the first half of the year as the threat of inflation continues to hang over the economy.
The price of fish and seafood soared by almost 18 per cent in Abu Dhabi last month. Overall, consumer prices have risen 2.5 per cent in the year to June compared with the same period last year, according to data released yesterday by Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.
The cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages contributed to more than 53 per cent of that increase and a larger share than other categories such as housing, electricity and fuel prices. Compared with the first half of last year, food prices have increased 8 per cent this year with the highest rises occurring with: meat and seafood products 13.5 per cent; coffee, tea and cocoa 12.8 per cent; and fruit 11.1 per cent.
During a shopping trip to a Lulu Hypermarket yesterday, Rashmi Sahay and her husband, Amit Kumar, said they had noticed the price of fresh fish fillets increasing considerably over the three years they have lived in the capital.
Even though their overall expenditures have increased a little more than 25 per cent over the past six months, they have not reduced the amount of rohu, white pomfret or other fish they enjoy.
"For our little baby, fish is really good and we try to cut back in other ways," said Ms Sahay, who noted the family had reduced the number of taxis they take and nights they spend in hotels. She is also hoping to join her husband, an engineer, in the workforce once their 18-month-old daughter, Shivali, is old enough for school. "We are here to save," said the expatriate from India.
Other shoppers such as Ahmed Addi, a government employee, say they have also been hit harder in the wallets recently. "What can I do?" he said while picking up cuttlefish at Dh27.90 (US$7.59) a kg yesterday.
Shoppers have, however, noticed a drop in the price of other goods. The cost of dresses and shoes for Mr Addi's daughter has been falling recently. In the past six months, clothing and footwear prices have come down 16 per cent compared with the same period last year .
The price of alcohol, as well as health services, has remained unchanged.
Some price changes have forced consumers to adopt more healthy eating habits. Ms Sahay said her family had reduced the amount of soda they drink due to price increases. So far this year, the cost of beverages such as soft drinks, mineral waters and fruit and vegetable juices have bubbled up more than 9 per cent.
"It's good," said Ms Sahay. "Now we don't drink [soda] as much, because it's not good for us but also because the price has gone up."
But most other sectors have increased. The cost of transport is up 9.4 per cent so far this year compared with the same period last year, while the price of home furnishings and household maintenance is up more than 6 per cent.
Communication services such as telephone and telefax have grown 5.7 per cent in price, and education costs are up more than 4 per cent.
Michael Terlizzi, a secondary teacher who has been living in the capital for three years, said the rising prices were teaching consumers to do more with less.
"You have to be more careful with your money," he said.