Regular monitoring by the consumer protection cell of the business and trade ministry seems to have led to competition among major shopping centres here as their price lists for food items show some uniformity now.
Earlier, food prices in particular varied sharply from one major retail outlet to another. In the case of non-food items like detergents and toiletries, huge price variations still exist.
This is evident from the weekly price lists the consumer cell has begun displaying on its website featuring 10 major shopping outlets across the country, which include Lulu, Carrefour, Mega Mart, Family Food Centre, Safari, Giant Stores, the Al Meera chain of cooperatives, Duhail Shopping Center and Al Safeer.
The comparative lists are posted on the cell’s website for the benefit of consumers and to help them decide where to go shopping for household provisions.
From the current price lists the cell has displayed, it is clear that as for basic food items, Al Safeer remains a somewhat expensive outlet, while the prices are slightly lower at other outlets, including Carrefour.
Qatari wheat flour remains the cheapest flour with a five-kilo pack available for around QR18. In Al Safeer, it (both Number 1 and 2) was being sold at QR20.25.
The average price of a 10-kg pack of Punjab basmati rice is around QR62, barring Al Safeer, while 10 kg of Tilda is available for about QR139.25.
A two-litre container of edible oil of Afia brand was available for QR16.75 on average, and the prices of sugar, tea and butter, among other essentials, also remained almost uniform at all the above outlets.
As for the prices of non-food items like shampoo and dish washing soap, the ministry’s price lists show some disturbing variations.
For example, a 600 ml pack of Pearl dish washing soap was available in Carrefour for QR5 but its price in another outlet was more than double at QR11. Similar was the case with toothpastes. The Crest brand of toothpaste was being sold the cheapest at Al Safeer at QR4.
The price of the popular Pampers brand of disposable diapers also varies from one major outlet to another.
The consumer cell has categorised all the items under three heads: Food, non-food and children’s items. It has also given telephone numbers for people to lodge complaints — 4945500 and 8005000 (the latter is a toll-free number).
The current price lists are valid from July 26 to August 1, the cell has said. It also displays monthly lists on its website.
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