Christmas spending spree
Outlook remains murky
Traffic jams charecterised most roads in the country’s major cities yesterday while consumers thronged retail shops as Christmas spending reached a peak amid concerns of rising cost of living.
The festive season spending hype comes barely a week after a surge in fuel pump prices by an average of 28 percent, which could affect prices of other basic commodities in the short to medium terms.
It, however, comes as Malawi’s headline inflation was reported to have gone down in November by 0.2 percentage points to 7.3 percent from 7.5 percent.
However, myriad challenges are still threatening the economy, including an exogenous shock of Covid-19 second wave, which poses a threat on buying power.
But most consumers we spoke to Thursday said they had no option but have a stylish celebration of the festivities amid the challenges.
One of the buyers, Gift Chanje, told The Daily Times that Covid-19 pandemic has affected some consumers but others could still afford a fortune for Christmas.
He, however, lamented loss in value of the local currency, the Kwacha, saying it had a bearing on buying power.
“Last year, I spent K150, 000 on festive season purchases and that has been the same case this year, so, if some people will see a drop in sales this season, it is because some people have lost their jobs and some are on half pay,” he said.
Chiyembekezo Maononga ,a vendor in Blantyre, said business remained volatile as, earnings were still lower than last year.
“During last year’s Christmas, we had a pile of tomato sauce and the place was very busy than now. But this year, pre-Christmas business has slowed,” he said
A visit to Sana Cash ‘n’ Carry at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre painted to Christmas spending spree with long queues of consumers buying in bulk.
Other consumers said they were also shopping for family and relatives.
During this season, retail shops register massive booms in sales with a guaranteed rise in profitability.
Consumer rights body, the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama), feared that most people could end up in credit trap if their spending were not well planned.
Cama Executive Director John Kapito said in a statement earlier that consumers should be careful in their spending this season as the future looks bleak.
Economist from the Polytechnic Betchani Tcheleni also projected a drop in business activity after the festive season.
“It is possible that people are heeding to calls by different economists that they should be saving to prepare for times ahead,” Tcheleni said.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.