The deadline for completion of the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into the grocery retail sector has been pushed out from May 2017 to March 2018, which will be 28 months after the inquiry was launched back in November 2015. Given the inquiry’s stated intention of finding answers to questions that go to the opaque heart of what is to be called a consumer-facing industry, the outcome is likely to be worth waiting for. The commission and the chairman of the inquiry, Halton Cheadle, have been at pains to stress the openness of the process and that there are no preconceived assumptions. If the big four retailers have made substantial inroads into the township and rural market, is this because they offer better quality and prices or because they are dominant and well resourced? Are the government’s regulations as much of a stumbling block for small players as the power of the large retailers? What, if any, damage is caused by exclusive lease agreements? Commission spokesman Sipho...

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