Last-minute sales boom for retailers

Source: Last-minute sales boom for retailers | The Herald 25 DEC, 2018

Last-minute sales boom for retailersCustomers do their last-minute Christmas shopping at Pick n Pay along Jason Moyo Avenue in Harare yesterday.— (Picture by Justin Mutenda)

Africa Moyo and Ishemunyoro Chingwere
What is regarded as a religious holiday by many could probably pass as a commercial day to retailers who are savouring the prospects of huge profits despite a generally challenging financial year, as consumers thronged supermarkets up to yesterday, seemingly undeterred by unjustified price increases.

There was heightened activity from Saturday up to yesterday as consumers did last-minute shopping ahead of today’s Christmas celebrations.

Supermarkets have experienced a boom in sales in the past few days as consumers sought to make the best of this year’s festivities from what remains of their disposable incomes following a bout of price escalations which hit the roof in October.

A number of major supermarkets such as Pick ‘n Pay, OK Zimbabwe, Spar and Food World, had long queues of people buying an assortment of basic food stuffs, particularly bread, sugar, cooking oil, ice cream, chicken, beef and margarine, among others.

Clothing shops also had their fair share of activity as parents and guardians sought to buy  clothes for children who still expect Christmas to bring with it new clothes.

The Herald Business also visited a number of tuckshops in downtown Harare where it witnessed hordes of people buying products such as cooking oil, Mazoe Orange Crush, soft drinks and sugar, in bulk.

The tuckshops are laden with almost all goods that are often not readily available in supermarkets amid reports that producers are opting to supply the small-scale traders who pay in cash – bond notes and US dollars – for their orders, unlike supermarkets that make electronic payments.

The tuckshops sell a carton of 2kg brown sugar at US$13 or $32 (bond notes), cartons of Mazoe ($35 bond or US$14,50) and Koo baked beans (US$11).

Other retailers with shops within Harare and nearby towns were also buying in bulk, both in bond notes and US dollars, so as to cash in on the boom in business.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) executive director Rosemary Siyachitema, confirmed to The Herald Business yesterday that there was reasonable consumer demand for goods ahead of Christmas celebrations.

“We have been to a couple of supermarkets and people were busy doing their shopping. However, the supermarkets are not as crowded as they used to be in previous years,” said Ms Siyachitema.

“There is not much of a hustle and bustle; it seems people are just buying and going back to their homes,” she said.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) Denford Mutashu concurred with Ms Siyachitema, saying there wasn’t much activity until late last week as citizens sought to get basics to spice up their festive holidays.

“Basically, there has been subdued activity in the month compared to the expectations we had as an industry, but I must say that Saturday and today (yesterday) have had better and improved activity,” said Mr Mutashu.

He said unlike in previous years, consumers were largely focusing spending their hard earned money “on back to school products”, with a view to making sure their children had all school essentials “before feasting”.

Added Mr Mutashu: “We also noted, since Thursday, an improvement in the supply and availability of the 14 basic and monitored goods due to continued Government support in as far as the supply of foreign currency is concerned and we really appreciate that, although it’s not at the level we want.”

The Herald Business also witnessed low income earners running around organising live chickens.

People who had reared chickens ahead of Christmas reported brisk business, with most of them indicating that they had been sold out.

Mr Siyachitema said she was working with Government to ensure prices come down for the benefit of consumers.

“There are various discussions going on under the auspices of the Vice President’s office to address concerns over prices but there isn’t much that we have seen in that regard,” said Ms Siyachitema, expressing hope that more ground could be covered next year.

Speaking to Herald Business, some shoppers said they were under pressure from children who insisted on having new clothes and a unique diet on Christmas Day.

“These children do not understand what we are going through in sourcing these items. It’s not their fault anyway, they need these clothes and food and we should provide as parents,” said a shopper identified as Mrs Shuvai Mutavara of Highfield.

A rural businessman Mr Thomas Chasarakufa from Mvurwi said the business complexion was different from urban centres where customers bought bulk groceries, thus boosting business.

“The only product that moves fast is opaque beer in rural areas. Yes, the customers have cash in some cases, but it’s not much to transform the business,” said Mr Chasarakufa.