Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Vendors dampen supermarkets profit

By Dickson Mangena

The influx of street vendors selling cheap commodities in cities and towns continue to dampen grocery shops’ profits margins.

There has been an increase of vendors selling wares from car boots of their vehicles. The picture taken recently shows these two women selling peanut butter and beans from their vehicles at corner 10th Avenue and Fort Street in Bulawayo.
There has been an increase of vendors selling wares from car boots of their vehicles. The picture taken recently shows these two women selling peanut butter and beans from their vehicles at corner 10th Avenue and Fort Street in Bulawayo.

According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)’s monthly report an upsurge of street vendors in cities and towns’ central business districts was posing unfair competition to supermarkets.

Due to low disposable income and the prevailing liquidity crunch in the country most consumers are resorting to buying most of their household commodities from street vendors whose prices are pegged lower than those offered by shops.

“Supermarkets are receiving stiff competition from evening pavement supermarkets. Many people prefer to buy from pavement vendors whom they feel offer cheaper prices,” read part of the report.

CCZ Matabeleland regional manager Mr Comfort Muchekeza said most of the commodities being sold on streets pavements were being smuggled into the country from neighbouring countries mostly South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

“Most of the commodities you find in the streets such as washing powders, bathing soaps and an array of beverage drinks are from Zambia and South Africa which people are opting for because of prices.

“Most of the street vendors are conducting their businesses illegally. It has to be known that they are also contravening the Health Act by selling meat and other perishables in the open and risk prosecution,” he said.

The street vendors sell detergents, kitchen ware, floor and shoe polish, insecticides, baked beans, meat and various household products.

“The CCZ continues to encourage consumers to shop conscientiously and to always buy certified products. Where the products are not certified, consumers have to exercise their right to information by carefully examining if the products they are purchasing are well labelled, packaged and provided with vital information such as manufacturing and expiry dates and ingredients used in the make-up of the products,” read part of the report.

Bulawayo Retailers Association secretary Mr Simba Phiri said street vendors were adversely affecting retail shops’ profitability.

“We are faced with a big problem when it comes to these so-called pavement supermarkets because our customers rush to them as their products are a bit on the cheaper side as compared to the ones we offer.

“One wonders where they get those commodities from. They even have the audacity to sell in front of shops yet they don’t have licences and have no salaries to worry about and wonder why they are not being arrested because their practice is unlawful,” said Mr Phiri. Sunday News

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