EXTENDED TRADING JHOURS: Retailers blame weak economy


The country’s megastores have blamed the weak economy for the limited trading hours they currently operate.

Most big retail shops open for trading at 8am in the morning during weekdays and close at 6pm with few others trading up to 8pm.

This is unlike in other countries where megastores are open as late as 10pm, providing consumers enough time to make purchases.


But speaking on condition of anonymity, some top managers at selected megastores in the country told Business Times that the weak economic conditions currently prevailing in the country do not provide a fertile ground for them to extend trading hours.

“Look, this is Malawi, not South Africa or the UK. You cannot compare these economies. These economies are at different stages of development. The more advanced the stage of economic development, the more money people have and, therefore, the stronger their purchasing power.

“Until we move some steps up the ladder in economic development, the number of hours we are trading are enough,” one manager said. He added that most of their customers use public transport which stops at 7pm.


He argued that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before shop owners could extend trading hours, including transport and security.

“If you remember during the days of Former President Kamuzu Banda, we had buses operating up to around 9pm but they stopped because people were attacking the drivers. We need such services to allow free movement of people.

“Again, if you look at the levels of security, who could risk buying a plasma television at 9pm and wait for a bus to take it home,” he queried.

He added that extending trading hours in the absence of reliable public transport could balloon operating costs as it would mean hiring taxis to drop members of staff who work at night.

Another manager at a shop which closes at 8pm said extending the trading hours even further would not make business sense as there are only a handful customers in the shop after 7.30pm.

“There are other shops in town which operate 24 hours, but how many customers are there, say at 11pm? You will find that there are very few,” the manager said.

He also blamed the limited trading hours on the structure of towns and cities which have people living away from the shops.

“If you look at the situation in other countries, people live within town. You will find that shops are at the ground floor of the buildings and people live in houses above the shops. If they want some merchandise, they just come down and buy.

“This is not the case in Malawi where majority of the people live in Ndirande, Bangwe, Zingwangwa, Namiwawa, Nyambadwe but the shops are at Chichiri Shopping Mall or Blantyre Central Business District which is far away from the people,” he said.

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