With just hours left to Christmas, shoppers were left scrambling for last-minute dAY shopping in the country’s major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
Business News observed hundreds of shoppers in and out of supermarkets and produce markets in last-minute Christmas shopping, making sure they got everything for everyone on their list.
From live chickens, meat, Irish potatoes, vegetables, sugar, rice and cooking oil to toiletries and clothing, there was something for everyone everywhere.
There were queues that snaked around within the shops as consumers waited for their turn to pay at the till.
One consumer, Melissa Thauzeni, who was pushing a trolley full of commodities in Lilongwe’s Game Stores, said she had purchased in bulk to cover January which she described as a difficult month that comes with a lot of challenges.
“Once you buy commodities like I have done it’s easier to mitigate the effects of the month of January that comes with a lot of responsibilities such as school fees and payments at the farm, “ she said.
Outside the supermarkets, there was commotion as consumers scrambled for parking space and security guards, who direct motorists on where to park, were overwhelmed with the duty.
At Mzuzu Shoprite, shoppers were seen scrambling for bread as others filled their trolleys and shopping baskets with groceries such as sugar, cooking oil and soap.
One of the shoppers at Shoprite, Herbert Chunda, who resides at Salisbury Lines in the city, said the scramble for bread priced at K370 per loadwas a sign that the people were only buying for Christmas.
Shoppers at Sana and Chipiku Plus were buying sugar at about K800 per one kilogramme (kg) packet, laundry soap at K1100 a unit, margarine at about K1 100, squash, salt, tissues and cooking oil.
Mataifa Market has not been spared as shoppers were seen buying clothes and hair products.
At Blantyre’s Flea Market, local chickens were seen selling like hot cakes. At an average of K3 500 per average chickens, traders were sure they would cash in.
“I had specifically made sure that by today, I had a lot of chickens so that I don’t miss this opportunity. I’m sure these chickens will sell out by sunset,” said one trader, Yohane Mailosi in Blantyre.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito has since warned consumers in the country to be extra careful on spending this festive season, saying most shop owners instead of reducing prices to spur celebrations have taken advantage to hike commodity prices to make extra profits.
He said: “In our assessment, the basic basket of needs has gone up by 11 percent in the recent months that we assessed. The price increase is multifaceted, we had fuel price increase, electricity tariff increase and other utilities and adding to these factors we see shops taking advantage of the festive season to rip off consumers.
Meanwhile, Castel Malawi has announced increased prices of its alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages effective January 1 2019 with an average of eight percent increase for soft drinks while alcoholic beverages have been pegged at K700 retail price.
Castel Malawi group public relations officer Titha Mbilizi attributed the upward adjustment of prices of their products to the recent increase in factors of production like fuel, electricity and sugar.
Additional reporting by GRACE PHIRI