Retailers feel the heat as vendors flood Harare

From all directions cacophony voices could be heard touting dollar ‘sipo yekugezesa (bathing soap), R5 ma spaghetti, dollar for seven toilet paper’.

This has become the order of the day in the country’s capital.

People outpace each other competing for cheap second hand clothes and general staff in the city’s flooded flea markets.

Despite the intense heat that hit the streets of Harare, people could be seen jostling up and down the streets hopping from one vendor to another in search for goods at comparatively low prices.

Hundreds of vendors are tightly packed in the city’s pavements with their commodities trouncing the traditional retailers’ prices.

Julius Nyerere 1There is generally everything on vendor’s make shift shops ranging from clothes to food stuffs.

Shopping on the pavements has become a common feature while the vendor’s make shift shop is now a preference for many struggling Zimbabweans.

Outside supermarkets, vendors everyday set up ‘shops’ to eke out a living in a trade where competition is tough and stiff among merchandisers of both imported and locally produced goods.

This state of affairs is a factor of over a decade-long economic and political crisis that effectively shrunk the formal sector to such a point that re-establishing the formal economy will not be as easy as some people perceive.

As vendors line the pavements and street sidewalks like busy ants, the growth of retailers’ sales have slowed down.

A retailer who spokes on conditions of anonymity admitted that informal traders are a major blow to their businesses.

“Indeed vendors are a major blow to us. What can you expect when someone sits in front of your shop selling the same products as yours at a lower price? queried the retailer.

“It’s obvious the consumers will go for the cheaper products,” he added.

While retailers pay licences and taxes, vendors always escape paying these.

Zack Hussein, another retailer said, “vendors drive away customers as they pollute the city and no customers would like to associate themselves with a dirty shop.Fourth Street 1

“Some vendors sell same products as ours thereby creating a direct competition with no overheads,” added Hussein.

He went on to blast revenue authorities for failing to protect retailers despite them paying taxes.

Aaron Chimombe, a business commentator revealed that allowing vendors on the streets encourages the flow of money to the informal sector.

“When we allow vendors in the streets, we are actively promoting the deviation of money from the formal system to the informal system because sales from shops will reduce.

“Once the sales reduce companies pay less tax. This also forces retailers to retrench which negatively affects Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and the income going to NSSA,” he said.

He however said “vendors should operate from designated places which should not be far from the bus terminuses.”

Samuel Wadzai, Director of National Vendors Union Zimbabwe said, “That is not a big problem, retailers should assist vendors to be organised.”

“It shows how bad how bad the economy and everyone should come on board to address this issue. There is no need to blame the vendors,” he said.

A consumer who spoke to 263Chat said that customers will always go for the cheaper product.

“A wise customer will always go for the cheaper product, why compromising? queried Varaidzo  Moyo who spoke to 263Chat while buying groceries for her family just outside Food World stores at Copacabana Bus terminus.

“The products are the same as those in the shops so it’s wise to save money for other things by purchasing on the flea markets,” said Mrs Moyo.

%d bloggers like this: