The convenient stores at the fuel stations are quite handy for motorists going on a long drive or those who need to pick up things they would have otherwise forgotten to buy at a regular store.
But there’s one problem: the prices aren’t so convenient on the pocket.
Many complain about the exorbitant rates for groceries, confectionery, soft drinks, tobacco products, over-the-counter drugs, toiletries, newspapers and magazines.
According to Ashraf Omar, a customer, prices of almost all goods at the convenience stores are high. You are paying 10-15 per cent more on most items at these shops.”
The Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP), however, says this is an “open market”. “The consumer has the right to buy what he wishes to from any shop.
“Prices cannot be controlled by PACP unless they are not justified by retailers with rational reasons,” said Omar Faisal al Jahdami, Deputy Chairman, Consumer Services and Market Monitoring, PACP.
He said these shops “don’t sell necessaries”, with the exception of water.
“They (convenience stores) are meant for people on the road and those coming at odd hours. In both cases, there is no harm in charging a premium for goods and services,” he said.
These outlets, which remain open 24X7, pay huge rents, besides salaries and utility charges, every month. “Obviously, their cost of operations is high, which will reflect in the prices.”
Al Jahdami said if a retailer wants to increase the price of any product, the shop representative should take prior permission from the PACP after citing “proper reasons”, in which case a price increase can be allowed.