Erratic pricing of products by neighbourhood shops is leading to dissent among customers. Sprouting in every nook and corner of Qatar, these shops have started manipulating prices as per their whims. Already reeling under the pressure of high inflation, customers have started demanding to regulate these shops.
“Consumers go to these shops to meet urgent needs or buy goods in small quantity. Neighbourhood shops know that they are conveniently located and take advantage by increasing prices of products as per their choice. It seems that there is no control by any government authority on these retail shops because they increase prices as per their wish,” said Tariq Saleem, a resident of Hilal.
“Sometimes they raise prices in small amounts because they know that consumers will not mind paying a little higher price,” he said.
Experts say there is need to check the profit margins of these shops which are unreasonably high.
“It is seen that some traders keep their profits up to 200 percent. The profit margins should be fixed and should not be left to the whims of traders.
“Such high profit margins make the role of the Consumer Protection Department questionable,” said a CMC member.
“There is no body to regulate prices. Traders should have their own body which should set parameters to fix prices of various products,” Dr Mohamed bin Jassim Al Muslemani, CMC member from Al Markhia constituency, told the local Arabic daily Al Arab.
Experts say neighbourhood shops should not be left to decide prices on their own based on demand and supply as it will further fan inflation.
“Prices should be fixed by government authorities and while fixing them, the market value of various products and their prices in neighbouring countries should also be kept in mind. Prices should be fixed after taking into account import and operation costs and the purchasing power of customers,” said Al Muslemani.
People have long been complaining that prices are high in Qatar compared to neighbouring countries.
And the difference in prices is so high that many people go to nearby countries to buy their needs.
However, neighbourhood shops say they fix prices based on their operating cost. Soaring rents in Qatar is another major contributor to high prices. “We have no option but to pass on our operating cost to consumers,” said a neighbourhood shop owner.