Most of the country’s shopping centres and shops were jammed with shoppers on Thursday out to get the best deal as consumers stocked up for Christmas and New Year festivities.
In Blantyre, shoppers thronged Chichiri Shopping Centre to get Christmas discounts dangled by Game Stores and Shoprite in a last minute dash.
Minibus operators capitalised on the rush, by pushing up fares in the three cities of Mzuzu in the North, Lilongwe in the Centre and Blantyre in the South.
In Mzuzu, the shopping mood was set around Mzuzu City Centre as shoppers made their way in aisles picking items that pleased them while others scrambled for products on promotion.
Sounds of chickens, bicycle bells, hooting motorists and hoarse shouts of shop touts, signalled that this is not a regular day.
During spot checks yesterday, shoppers were seen scrambling for cheaper dressed chickens, with one buyer saying for him ‘No chicken, no Christmas’.
Hammocka Kamanga, a trader in Mzuzu who sells dressed chickens, said his business is thriving as people prefer his chickens because the price is K1 200 (about $1.8) instead of K2 500 (about $3.9).
Mzuzu Shoprite had long queues for bread, a sign of how people treasure a cup of tea and bread on Christmas Day.
But for Yosefe Misinde, an Irish potato trader, his sales were poor compared to the same period last year.
For rice traders at Vigwagwa Market, sales have also been poor too.
“This year has been very different from the rest, we have not registered high sales as we always do during the festive season. My guess is that people do not have enough money to spend,” said Bahat Myambala, a rice vendor.
The same has been the case in Blantyre.
Spot checks business was normal.
“It seems this Christmas is not for everyone,” said Fazilla Mushi of Rai’s Fashion World in Limbe.
She said business has not been satisfactory during this period on account of a volatile kwacha which she said has negatively impacted on businesses.
“Christmas is usually coupled with customers and we as businesses make profits during this time. But we have not had that experience this year,” she said.
But for major outlets such as Game Stores, business has been good this Christmas, and sales made during this period “were satisfactory” according to marketing manager Griffin Chavula.
“We have met our expectations, thanks to the promotion that we conducted between December 17 and 24. During this period, we saw a good number people who patronised the store and shopped with us helping us to boost our sales.’’
He promised that more goodies await shoppers ahead of New Year’s festivities.
“Our shop will endeavour to conduct promotions as a way of giving back to the community,” he said. n