Some shop owners in Harare have reportedly resorted to vending activities in order to counter the activities of street vendors who have mushroomed everywhere in the City.
Licensed shops have been complaining over illegal street vendors whom they accuse of taking business away from formal shops. However, due to the reluctance by authorities to deal with illegal vendors it seems as if some shop owners have now taken it upon themselves to deal with the problem of losing business.
It is reported that shops in Harare especially those who sale clothes and electrical gadgets have since adopted the practice of employing vendors due to competition from illegal street vendors who are now dealing in almost everything. One shop assistant along Angwa Street confirmed that some shop owners are now employing agents sale shoes and shirts in the streets.
“We are experiencing very low sales in shops and some shop owners are now sending their employees to vend on the streets. My boss wanted to do it but, we refused,” said the shop assistant who declined to be named.
Other shop owners are said to have since completely abandoned shops citing challenges in paying rentals and taxes. 263Chat caught up with one lady identified as Mai Shumba (36) an electrical dealer along Julius Nyerere Way who claimed to have recently moved out of a shop due to viability challenges.
“I realised that there is no need for me to continue paying rentals when unlicensed vendors are taking away all business. I have been struggling to pay rentals and workers’ salaries since January, so it is better for me to operate on the street where I do not pay rentals and taxes,” said Shumba.
A shop owner operating along Robert Mugabe who retails clothes and shoes claimed that some of his counterparts in the fashion retail business were now employing street vendors whom they pay a 10% commission at the end of the day.
“It is now a normal practice to give out some of the merchandise to street vendors who I understand are making better sales than those made in shops. It is now common for a day to pass without a single sale in the shop and I am considering trying it (vending) out if vendors are not moved out of the streets by month end,” said the shop owner who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A close source at Townhouse confirmed this development saying that some shop owners have been coming to council offices threatening to abandon shops due to uncontrolled vending activities that now engulf Harare.
“We just tell them (shop owners) to do what is best for their businesses because the truth is that council has failed to protect shops against competition from illegal vendors who do not pay any taxes or rentals. I also understand that some shop owners are now selling from the pavements on Sundays when the streets are not busy,” revealed the mole at Townhouse.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing an economic meltdown for the past decade which has seen the country experiencing a high unemployment rate that has been put at over 90% by some. Many people have been left to survive on vending activities which is now threatening the survival of formal businesses.
Government has since announced that illegal vendors should move to council designated sites away from the CBD by 26 June 2015. However, the directive to relocate to designated sites has been rejected by many vendors.