People are busy shopping for food, sweets and gifts at Lulu Supermarket with their families and friends. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Essential commodities in the UAE have become dearer by one or two dirhams in the last three months.

Prices of essential commodities have crept up gradually, so much so that it is difficult to notice the rise.

While the prices of fresh milk, yoghurt, meat and chicken have registered no major change, prices of fresh vegetables have gone up by two to three dirhams per kilo.

The wholesale vegetable market from Oman has been closed for undisclosed reasons for the last month meaning fresh vegetables are only available from other countries like Jordan and Tunisia.

What looks like a minor tweak in prices actually goes on to impact the cumulative bill when you end up paying two dirhams extra for each commodity.

The other trick many supermarkets have adopted is keeping prices unchanged for commodities like cooking oil but reducing quantity.

Vegetable oil in most of the supermarkets is now available in 1.8 litre packs instead of the usual two litres. The quantity has shrunk but prices have remained the same.

The only saving grace is the shopping at cooperative supermarkets that not only sell bulk items, thus keeping prices low, but also charge at least 10 per cent less than other supermarkets.

Substantial savings are on offer if you discard branded tea, coffee, sugar, rice and cooking oils and opt for the cooperative’s products.

On a broader scale, consumers are not hallucinating about the price rise as it is for real.

“In the past three months the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for UAE has increased 1.21 per cent and for Dubai 1.1 per cent," said Cedwyn Fernandes, Associate Professor of Economics at Middlesex University Dubai.

"The August year on year increase has been 2.42 per cent for the UAE and 3.53 per cent for Dubai.

"These increases have an impact on consumers as a majority of consumers are on fixed salary contracts with no salary increases to compensate for the erosion of their purchasing power due to inflation."

So, keep your wits about you when you shop and be a hard-nosed bargainer, picking up the bulk deals at cooperatives if you want to keep your budget on track.