EXTEND TRADING HOURS: Small and Medium Entrepreneurs cash in on closures
Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Malawi’s cities and townships have touted the positive relationship with residents as a contributing factor to their decision to have flexible business hours. Most remain open for trade to late in the evening and do not close over lunch.
A visit to some shop owners in Zingwangwa, Chilobwe and Ndirande townships on Tuesday proved that SMEs are cashing in on the early closures of major retail stores, mostly based in the Central Business District (CBD).
“We always have a good network and relationship with residents. Besides that, we know our customers, so, it would be naïve to close at lunch and then as early as 5pm, yet we need money to survive,” James Mwazani, a Chilobwe resident said.
He further said it is obvious that most of their customers are working class and hence closing their businesses at 5pm would not make any business sense.
“I should admit that we cash in on the early shop closures of those that have shops in Limbe town and Blantyre City,” he said.
In a separate i n terview, Thomas Phiri, a trader based in Zingwangwa, was of the view that the kind of business he runs—which is a barbershop— requires extended hours for him to make more profits.
“Some of our customers phone us to wait for them to have their beard or hair shaved and that keeps us going. Sometimes, we even close depending on the clients that are there at that particular time,” Phiri said.
He added that security issues to their businesses lie in customers themselves through the neighbourhood spirit as opposed to those operating in the CBD.
This comes as business operators in the CBDs of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba and other townships choose to close their shops during lunch hour breaks and in the early evening at 5pm.
Our investigations have further shown that the situation is worse during the weekend when business operators don’t event open on Sundays, a development economists say is detrimental to Malawi’s agro-based economy.
The tendency deprives working class people chance to buy goods and services at lunch and after 5pm, according to the Consumers Association of Malawi and others.