Supermarkets mark prices in dollars as local currency tanks

Supermarkets mark prices in dollars as local currency tanks

Supermarkets in Lebanon have started pricing items in U.S. dollars instead of the nose-diving local currency, after a government announcement allowing the practice in a country heavily reliant on imports.

Since late 2019, Lebanon has been facing a dramatic economic crisis that has seen poverty rates climb to reach more than 80 percent of the population, according to the United Nations.

The local currency, now officially pegged at 15,000 to the greenback, was trading Wednesday at almost 90,000 to the dollar, compared to 60,000 in late January.

An AFP photographer said a large supermarket chain in Beirut had begun displaying prices in dollars on Wednesday, while the exchange rate of 89,000 pounds was displayed on a screen at the entrance.

Domestically produced fruit and vegetables were still priced in the local currency.

"Every week, or every day even, products are becoming more and more expensive," said Susane Zeitoun, 28, who was shopping at the supermarket.

"Now I have to calculate prices into Lebanese pounds," she added.

In February, Economy Minister Amin Salaam announced that supermarkets would be able to start pricing items in dollars, while customers could pay in dollars or Lebanese pounds at the volatile market rate.

Each store would have to clearly announce the exchange rate