A study to reveal the cheapest retailer will definitely send some companies back to the drawing board. The research by JPMorgan Chase will present consumers with a clear map as to where the best prices can be found.

The supermarket pricing survey uses a low-end and mid-end market basket store account to allow for the wide income disparity of consumers.

Prices across all the fast-moving consumer goods were looked at with a sample of 30 items per basket. The study, which was conducted in January in Gauteng, attempts to capture a broad spread of product categories including processed food, personal care, dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables. These are the kind of details that both retailer and customer need.

Retail sales grew only 2.2 percent in February, indicating that consumer choice is facing a downward trend.

With the repo rate likely to be increased before it comes down, the consumer is surely looking for the cheapest retailer. While some retailers bet on their customers’ loyalty, consumers are spending more time reading store catalogues and comparing prices before filling that basket.

Annabel Bishop, an economist at Investec, said yesterday that retail inflation rose to 4.2 percent in February from 3.8 percent in January as some firms continued to push up prices to alleviate margin compression that occurred last year.

Most retailers and food companies said they were pushing up prices because of increasing operational costs.

However, consumers are also battling with fuel, electricity and rate hikes. Further eating into their wallets are debt repayments and other financial commitments such as school fees and mortgages.

For retailers the study will lay out a map of what customers need these days.

See Business Report on Sunday for details of the study.

Tharisa Minerals

As the strike across the platinum belt enters its 13th week today, life continues in Mmaditlhokwe, a community in Rustenburg that has been waiting for Tharisa Minerals to compensate them after they were relocated from their ancestral land to make way for a new mine.

Cosatu is putting pressure on Tharisa Minerals, a newly listed company, to provide basic services, including water and electricity, to the 800 affected families. It marched to Tharisa’s offices on Tuesday, where the union federation’s members handed over a memorandum and demanded a response within seven days.

It is not clear what the company promised initially, but judging by the list of demands from Cosatu, there is a lot of unhappiness on the ground.

Asked why the march was only taking place now when the community had been relocated in 2011, Solly Phetoe, the Cosatu secretary for the North West, said Tharisa had not fulfilled its obligations to the community. Should the demands not be met, the federation has threatened legal action.

The residents informed Cosatu of the issue during a voting campaign in the area.

The national general elections are around the corner and campaigning is in overdrive, but Phetoe disagreed that Cosatu was electioneering. He said Tharisa was a perfect example of how mining houses exploited communities.

He said Cosatu also wanted Tharisa to stop relocating graves immediately and to perform the correct rituals for the deceased. Proper homes should also be built. He said the residents were moved to tin houses, which shook during blasting.

The Cyprus-based company, which denied the allegations, is chaired by mining businessman Loucas Pouroulis, who established Petra Diamonds, Keaton Energy and Eland Platinum.

It boggles the mind that such an experienced businessman could have overlooked crucial obligations set out in the mining charter, which compels mining houses to improve the lives of the people in communities where they operate. page 19

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Nompumelelo Magwaza and Dineo Faku.