x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Large retailers praised for low Ramadan prices

A Ministry of Economy official praised hypermarkets for reducing the cost of food and other essential items.

DUBAI // As he toured a hypermarket in Al Barsha yesterday, a senior Ministry of Economy official praised large food stores for following rules on reducing the cost of essential goods during the holy month.

"I am delighted that the hypermarket chains are offering dozens of products at reduced prices during Ramadan," said Dr Hashem Al Nuaimi, the director of the Consumer Protection Department at the ministry. "The problems we do have are with small grocery shops, where prices are higher."

Dr Al Nuaimi was speaking during an inspection of the Union Co-operative Society hypermarket at Al Barsha Mall yesterday.

"There are 29 items that have a fixed price during Ramadan in Union Co-operative stores. This is good and it benefits the consumer," Dr Al Nuaimi said.

In addition to these lower-priced goods, there were an additional 157 products from the supermarket's own Union brand that were being sold at reduced prices during the holy month.

Some of the lower-priced goods included a litre of water, which was priced at Dh1.50 before Ramadan and was reduced to 90 fils, a 710ml bottle of Vimto cordial reduced from Dh7.50 to Dh4.95, and Californian Chick Peas cut from Dh9.80 to Dh7.40.

A five-litre bottle of Union Sunflower oil was reduced in price from Dh38.95 to Dh29.95, a 1,816 gram tub of Lurpak butter was slashed from Dh55.20 to Dh29.95, and Monarch tomato paste was cut from Dh19.50 to Dh8.25.

The store was also offering a special Ramadan basket filled with items such as pasta, cooking oil and cordial beverages for Dh400. The basket can feed a family of five for two weeks.

"The prices are 20 per cent lower than they were for Ramadan last year," Dr Al Nuaimi said. "What is also good is that all the items are available. But it's not just Union Co-operative. LuLu, Carrefour and Spinneys all have their own list of fixed-price items."

A consumer protection official said LuLu had cut prices for around 40 items, while Carrefour had done the same for about 37.

So far, the ministry had caught 58 offenders, most of which were small shops.

Dr Al Nuaimi stressed that the aim of the inspection visit was to ensure that the prices agreed upon previously were being implemented, and were available to all consumers.

He praised Union Co-operative Society for providing basic necessities at lower prices and for its large number of promotional offers. He said some items were being sold at the same price that it cost the hypermarket to purchase them.

Shoppers welcomed the lower prices.

"The prices are good here. It's the first time I have come here and I like it a lot," said Rawan Jaroudi, a Lebanese restaurant manager.

"In Carrefour, the prices might be cheaper, but I'm willing to pay a bit more because it's a lot less busy.

"I think the food prices are a little bit more expensive here, but I'm prepared to pay that because it is a lot more convenient."

Maya Tareq, a Jordanian who has been in Dubai for three years, said she had seen a steady increase in the cost of food and other essentials.

"I know that a lot of these supermarkets offer sales on their own brands, but I don't tend to buy these things because I'm not always sure of the quality," she said.

"Compared with Jordan, the prices are lower in general except in bakery foods. It's good that these prices are lower during Ramadan."

Dr Al Nuaimi warned that the ministry would not tolerate attempts by shops to manipulate prices or to monopolise the market.

He urged consumers who feel they may have been charged too much for items to contact the ministry's hotline on 600 522 225.

nhanif@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Bana Qabbani