Discounts for USD: a game of haves vs have nots

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
WHatsApp Forex USD, Customer experience, bureaux de change USD buy Zimbabwe RBZ, Auction Rate, discount

Discounts for USD purchases is a “hidden” business practice in Zimbabwe. Late last year we reported on TM Pick n Pay’s 50% discount for groceries bought with US$ and it looks like they aren’t the only ones doing this. We were out on the town this week and popped into TV Sales and we noticed a cash discount sign around the shop and asked the store staff out of curiosity, and we were told there is an 18.5% discount for goods bought in USD.

It looks like whatever SI 127 of 2021 tried to achieve went out of the window, mainly USD discounts to try and entice customers to pay in the elusive United States Dollar. The RBZ was quite forceful about SI 127 until it realised that Zimbabwean businesses weren’t having it and they reduced the scope of the snap legislation to just entities trading on the auction.

The RBZ’s lack of foresight and not “reading the room” aside, these discounts aren’t really for everyone because…

Most stores use the black market rate…

There is a kaleidoscope of rates out there from shop to shop. This has forced Zimbos to get their forex from black market traders because, if they find a good one, it beats competing with whatever the store is offering. Secondly, the discount might not actually be a discount if you have the time to do the maths. Some stores are bold enough (or are mandated) to display both USD and ZWL$ prices and this makes things easier. However others are don’t, so this means you’ll have to work out what that store is charging based on USD prices from other stores or those you have researched.

Whatever the case may be, the discounted USD price might be the right price for the product at the auction rate or just a few dollars shy of the parallel market rate. However, the only benefit, if you are thinking about buying products at the foreign currency discount, is that it will save you some money in transaction fees especially if you are using EcoCash.

That being said these offers exclude a large proportion of Zimbabweans…

Not everyone earns in USD so the discounts are exclusionary

If you earn in USD then you have far more options than individuals who earn in local currency. It’s only a select group that can see the value in shaving off the transaction fees and handover their USD. On the other end of the spectrum are civil servants, for example, who can’t afford this offer because whenever they get foreign currency it is better to hold on to it for other things like school fees and savings than spend it at Pick n Pay.

Moreover, if they wanted to participate in these USD discounts they would have to go and trade local currency for United States Dollars at the plethora of street rates out there and this is just a loss because, on top of giving away a currency that better holds value than the ZWL$, they will incur charges they were already going to experience had they just used local currency.

Informal traders are another demographic that might not be participating in these USD discounts because why would they use that which can get them their stock in a supermarket?

Whatever marginal advantages these discounts present are unfortunately only limited to those with access to USD. For those without, it’s a matter of contending with the local currency…

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  1. Hugh Jarse

    You get what you vote for, and not just the recent election either! Yes, Zimbabwe, your currency’s about to go SPLAT!, yet again, but not so surprising when you see what you allow to get back in, aided and abetted by cde chamisa, hell-bent on keeping his mercs ‘n perks, (tax-free ones btw), instead of focusing on minimising vote-rigging and allowing change to at least get to the door! It’s a tad late to bleat about it now.

  2. Barf!

    It’s not surprising to anyone with an gram of common sense, but then most of the have-nots were the ones keeping zpf where they are. Stupid is the politest way to describe their actions, dating back to 1985, when zpf got in again and created a de-facto one party state by 1987! Now you have greedy stupids, hell-bent on keeping their mercs ‘n perks intact AND greedy, destructive zpf! Not a great combo by anyone’s standards…

  3. 2434

    Pick n pay rtgs price is way higher than most other retailers…. So if you so in rtgs there in particular you are going to loose out…. On the other hand is you go to others with USD then you lose out…. So it’s better this way shop according to method of payment

  4. M2li

    hakuna discount facility which beats black market even including its charges. ikozvino ratove kuma 190, with 50% 108 becomes 162. The only time you might consider this when uchida kutenga chinhu chiri under $5, not kuti waenda kunotenga month end grossary, tomboti you buy grossaries for 20’000 the difference those 2 rates is almost USD$18 call is 15 with charges. thats almost 10 days worth of transport money there.

    1. Anonymous

      Do your maths again. 108 minus 50%, 216 makes their rate higher than black mkt 190.

      1. Tachema

        Black markt is at 235

  5. Bullion

    Let’s get back to basics. In s normal Zimbabwe if you were using Forex to pay it meant you’re a tourist. Tourists would pay double for everything. Foreign students paid double what we paid in school fees. Now that’s normal! Why discount a foreign hand at your till at the expense of your locals? This is utter rubbish being practiced here. Has nothing to do with the Government too. We’ve simply allowed greed to compromise our morals as a nation. Zimbabweans are now a heartless and evil people, simple. We need a complete reinstallation in our grey matter. All of us. Blaming this Party or that Government is pathetic coz it’s the entire society that’s been compromised.

    We’re a lost cause morally. We simply thrive on corruption.

    1. CyphersVerse


  6. Tachema

    People driven eco

  7. CyphersVerse

    Is it the government that is killing our currency, no its you. When ever you find a way to kill the currency you do it. Eh The pick n pay discount is one eggs killer stop supporting it.

  8. Dhuterere

    Bullion wapedza masports hanzi reinstallation of our grey matters kkkkkk software yemaZimboz yakasorohwa kare ne virus

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