Responding to the appeals by the government, major retailers in Turkey have launched an initiative to freeze prices and even offer discounts on many daily essential goods despite the country’s steep inflation rate.
A fresh wave of price increases swiped the country after the Turkish government announced a 55-percent increase in the minimum wage for 2023 in December 2022. This prompted Nureddin Nebati, minister of Treasury and Finance, to warn shops against “unfair pricing.”
Supermarket chains, such as Migros and discount retailers Sok, BIM and A101, announced at the start of the year that they will freeze the price of thousands of daily goods for at least a month.
Major retailer Happy Center also said it would offer discounts of up to 20 percent on staple food items and other essentials.
Thousands of other businesses in major Turkish cities said they have joined the initiative after having been urged by government officials to offer discounts to consumers as many households grapple with rampant inflation.
The annual inflation rate hit a 24-year high of 85 percent in the country in October 2022, before declining to 64 percent in December, battering the incomes of ordinary people.
Sekip Avdagic, chairman of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, hailed the responsibility of those businesses which have heeded the government’s appeals to freeze prices of daily goods, while calling on all other businesses to do the same.
“We believe it is extremely important that chain stores freeze prices on many products one after the other,” he said, emphasizing the business community’s hope to end the high inflation for good.
However, some consumers are not pleased with the initiative, complaining that what they saw in the supermarkets was different from what the retailers had said.
“I am not happy with this initiative because I don’t see any discounts at the shops. Frankly, I don’t see any price freezing around,” Semra Toprak, a pensioner told Xinhua in Ankara’s Cankaya district.
The retiree said that food prices are still very high, especially meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Sahin Durak, a middle-aged self-employed man also expressed frustration over the initiative.
“Chain supermarkets are saying they have frozen prices, but I am not convinced. There are some discounts offered but they are mostly insignificant,” he told Xinhua.
Some economists have suggested that the Turkish Central Bank should print 500- and 1,000-lira (about 53 U.S. dollars) banknotes to address the weakening national currency.
“Turkish lira has no purchasing power. 200 lira banknotes are not enough anymore at the grocery shop,” Ozgur Demirtas, a well-known scholar from Istanbul’s Sabanci University, said on Twitter.
The Turkish currency lira, which has lost about 70 percent of its value against the greenback since the start of 2022, now stands at 18.80 against one dollar.