Croatians bemoan post-euro 'wild' price hikes

STORY: At this open-air market in Zagreb, people are on the hunt for the freshest produce and the lowest prices.

But since Croatia started using the euro at the beginning of the year - shoppers say prices have spiked, making that hunt a lot harder.

"We have all felt the price increases,” says this woman. “It's certainly 30% more, for everything."

This shopper says he's felt it too - adding that he knows people looking for new jobs to cope.

When traders began to round prices from the local currency in January - most shot up.

The government has threatened sanctions unless they cut prices back again - but traders point the finger at inflation.

Igor Vujovic is the president of the country's consumers’ association.

"We have been observing what’s happened from January 1, when we switched to the euro, and the prices have been going wild. Energy, oil, electricity and water prices didn't change in the previous two months. We switched to the euro and the prices are still rising between 5 and 20 percent, I can say everyday in the last 10 days - it depends on the product."

Over a two-week period, inspectors handed out fines totalling more than $250,000 and found about 40 percent of businesses hiked prices unjustifiably.

Critics say the government rushed to introduce the euro amid an energy crisis and high inflation.

Last year Croatia reported one of the highest inflation rates in the EU, with an annual rate of 10.8 percent.

But the government has long argued the euro will make Croatia’s economy stronger and make the country more resistant to external shocks.