The government has called on retailers to help ease the pressure of higher prices on consumers, but it is unlikely that South African households will escape the impact of rising international oil costs and a weakening currency. Last week, the government announced it would place more products on the VAT exemption list to ease the consumer burden - and has asked retailers to do their part. In particular, it asks that retailers do not increase the prices of other products. But retailers couldn't absorb all of the impact on wholesale prices of rising fuel costs and higher import prices, said Kevin Lings, chief economist at Stanlib. "If they absorb all of it they run the risk of floundering or starting to incur losses and then the damage would be that they would likely incur store closures and you would get retrenchments. "It's got to do with market forces ... [before the currency slump] the economic environment was more buoyant and retailers were looking to increase prices," Lings said....

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