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“Tough times are upon us. Things are becoming more expensive. We can’t afford the things anymore, and we now depend on specials.”
These were the words of a Bolt e-hailing driver from Randburg in Johannesburg on the ever-increasing cost of living.
A spike in inflation has left many South African households with a cost-of-living crisis and some are now struggling to adjust their monthly budgets for groceries, transport, and water and electricity.
On Wednesday, Fin24 reported that consumer inflation had spiked to 7.4% in June, compared to 6.5% in May.
According to Fin24, the June inflation data showed that maize meal prices had increased by 5% in a single month, the prices of brown bread and macaroni climbed 3%, cooking oils and fats were 33% higher, with the price of polony going up by 19%.
The rise in food prices has caused many households to spend more on food than they had previously, and many workers believe their salaries have not kept pace with inflation.
On Thursday, News24 visited Ferndale on Republic, a shopping centre in Randburg, to get the views of shoppers on how they were meeting their basic needs.
The Bolt driver who wanted to remain anonymous said it was hard to make ends meet, given that it was his only source of income.
He said: 

According to the driver, he can’t afford the things he used to. He said he was being forced to target shops offering promotions and specials to save money because cutting the budget was impossible.

“We don’t just go into shops like we used to. We have to target shops that have specials and see if you can save a few coins here and there. That’s how we buy things now. It’s not easy because everyone is going through the same thing,” he added.
“The problem is, some of the other things, like water and electricity, you can’t cut down on the prices because it’s prepaid. We tried to make adjustments like switch off unnecessary things that might waste electricity, and with water we have to make sure all taps are closed. But it’s really difficult,” he said.
There is no doubt that many households are feeling the pinch and many shoppers say they are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living.
A shopper who was doing grocery shopping for the second time in July said by the end of the month she would have spent about R4 000.
“Just two weeks ago, I spent R2 000 on groceries, and I’m back again, buying groceries because it’s finished. In just a month, I would have spent R4 000, and [those are] things that I really need,” the shopper said.
She said it was very difficult to adjust the monthly budget to meet their needs.
“I have spent about R1 100 on electricity as it gets finished very fast, yet [we get] load shedding. How do I budget for electricity? If it’s finished, I have to buy more,” the shopper said.
She added:
Other shoppers with grocery lists who were pushing trollies were hesitant to speak to News24. However, some of them said that keeping up with their daily needs had been difficult.
Others said no matter how expensive an item was, they would still buy it if it was something they were used to. They said changing wasn’t an option.
On the other hand, Sheet Street workers said they have found themselves having to spend less on electricity and groceries so they could meet other needs.
Save more, cut back on luxuries
Contact Center Dynamics, a business providing business consulting, training and leadership mentoring online, said South Africa was seeing a sharp increase in food costs, with R20 to R30 increases in food in the space of a few months.
According to its owner and director Desiree Lang, the big question facing consumers was “how to make ends meet”.
She provided a list of things households should consider implementing to save more during these:

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