No price gouging in our Aboriginal community stores
You’ve seen it in the news - $9 for a celery and shoppers around Australia are outraged, calling it price gouging. And they are probably right.
Sadly, we are well versed in the concept and sentiment of price gouging which is common in Aboriginal community stores in the NT. The good news is, you will not see any gouging going on at any store that we manage, not in the time of corona virus or at any other time.
In a lovely post on social media, Lyn, a manager from the Wirib Store in Timber Creek said:
“Hi Everyone, I just want to reassure everyone that Wirib Store is safe and there is no coronna virus here. Secondly, I want to reassure everyone that you’re not going to go hungry, we are working on extra stock so we can supply everyone. Some of our prices are very similar to Coles and Woolworths and that’s the healthy stuff, the lollies and chocolate may be more expensive, but will definitely be cheaper than a trip to Kunnanurra or Katherine…”
You can follow the Wirib Store and Tourism Park Facebook page here .
Our mission to bring down prices
AIG manages both the Wirib Store in Timber Creek and the Bagala Store in Barunga (south east of Katherine) and it’s been our mission to bring down prices and improve the range on the shelves.
If you walked into these stores, you would see mob’s choice tags throughout. These tags indicate a mob’s choice product which has been chosen through consultation with the community and are discounted to make them as affordable as possible.Mob’s choice products are what the shoppers say they need on the shelves to care for their family daily and there are about 15 products in the range at any one time.
Shopping in community during COVID 19 lockdown
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on all our lives, none more than people who live in Aboriginal communities. On March 27 we saw the Department of Health put communities into lockdown under the Biosecurity Act 2015 – no movement in or out (without quarantine), coupled with strong message of staying at home in community.
For many people not being able to travel to the bigger towns nearby to go shopping is scary because the prices are so high in their local store, their welfare payments won’t even start to cover everything they need. It’s going to tough for people in lockdown, there is no doubt about that.
As Lyn mentioned in the post above, we are working with the communities to make sure they have what they need to get through the isolation. Keeping the stores stocked is our key priority.
Impact on health long term
In the long-term, expensive stores and the impact on health is significant, and unethical. The incidence of chronic disease in Indigenous populations is in large part due to the food choices available in community and we believe there is lots that can be done in disrupting the way stores are managed, stocked and priced in the NT.
Our key methods for bringing down prices are:
- Shopping around suppliers for best prices
- Not accepting rebates (see here for story on rebates)
- Bringing down store running costs so saving can be passed on by lowering stock prices
When life is back to normal
We will continue our work keeping prices low now and in the future. And when life is back to normal, we’ll be back in the fighting ring trying to disrupt the status quo of long-term price gouging in the stores of our poorest Australians.
If you want to read more about price gouging in Aboriginal community stores;