Prices of an array of consumer goods in Turkey are said to have been revised after major retailers announced a wave of discount initiatives and price freezes in a bid to help tame stubborn inflation.
The move came after meetings and calls by government officials, who urged businesses to do more to curb skyrocketing consumer prices that have moderated over the last two months after hitting a 24-year high in October.
Major supermarket chains, including Migros, Şok Marketler, A101 Yeni Mağazacılık and Happy Center, announced earlier this month that they would freeze prices of thousands of everyday goods.
Happy Center Istanbul North Anatolia Regional Manager, Özcan Kaya, said they obeyed calls from officials and launched discounts on Jan. 11, adding that they would be extending full support to households. Happy Center said it would fix the prices of many products and make discounts of up to 20% on an array of food and non-edible goods.
“We cautiously chose the most needed products that will be the most efficient for people when it comes to product discounts. We will continue our work of reducing and fixing prices until the end of January,” Kaya told Anadolu Agency (AA).
“We are waiting for citizens to benefit from these discounts in our stores. I believe that the participation of other sectors in these discount campaigns will contribute to the fight against inflation,” he added.
The government had warned leading grocery chains following a reported fresh wave of price hikes after the country announced an increase in the minimum wage for 2023.
Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati called on retailers to act, stressing exploitative pricing would not be accepted, and asking markets not to increase or fix prices for a certain period.
Nebati, and Trade Minister Mehmet Muş, separately with top executives of leading retailers recently. Muş warned the government would never allow unfair price hikes aimed at disrupting the market order and functioning.
Şok announced it would freeze prices of some 1,000 basic consumer goods – from rice, pasta, pulses, flour, tea, coffee, sugar and oil to multiple vegetables – throughout January.
Migros announced it was fixing prices of 419 of its own goods with discounts on more than 3,000 products. It also froze prices of many essential items, including oil, flour, tea, sugar, pulses, detergent and diapers for this month.
The owner of one of the largest store networks across Turkey, A101, said it would freeze prices of 2,023 basic goods throughout January.
Similarly, CarrefourSA said it announced discounts of between 20% and 40% on prices of 20,000 food and non-edible products for this month.
The consumer price index in Turkey decelerated at its steepest pace in more than a quarter century in December 2022.
Annual inflation fell sharply to 64.27% in December from the 84.39% reported in November 2022. The decline was driven mainly by the so-called favorable base effect and marked a second straight fall after inflation hit a 24-year high of 85.5% in October .
The government announced a 55% raise in the official minimum wage for 2023. It has tripled the minimum wage in the past year, raised state salaries and hiked pensions for millions to ease the pressure on households stemming mostly from soaring inflation.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also announced a measure that would allow over 2 million citizens to retire early. He said the minimum wage may be hiked again throughout the year if necessary.
The government last year introduced several relief measures to help cushion the fallout from inflation, including a cap on rent increases, reduced taxes on utility bills and the unveiling of a major housing project for low-income families.
Okan Çiğli, a Happy Center customer, stressed his satisfaction with the move and called for the discount campaign to be expanded.
“We expect the discounts to become widespread and that our government focuses on this matter in a much firm manner. Prices are appropriate as per the region. We hope that the purchasing power will improve with these campaigns,” said Çiğli.