Few days to Yuletide: Christmas euphoria yet to pick up
The high cost of items and the low disposable incomes, have combined to dim the usual euphoria ahead of Christmas and other end-of-year festivities billed for this month.
Although traders of items usually in high demand around this year have lamented the sluggish pace of sales, they are quite optimistic that business will boom in the coming days.
When the Daily Graphic hit the streets and markets to interact with some traders on their views about the festive season, many of them said they were unhappy about the current state of affairs, saying they were yet to feel the yuletide.
“Christmas in the air”.
Many traders attributed the dullness of the festive season to the economic challenges the country was facing and the persistent rise in the average prices of goods and services which had resulted in low sales.
It also came to light that the reopening date for senior high schools (SHSs) first-year students on December 4 has not helped matters as parents are busily engaged in preparing for their children to go to school.
That notwithstanding, the traffic jams and the influx of tourists, revellers and shoppers in the capital are visible signs which inspire hope ahead of the Yuletide.
Thankfully, the Christmas atmosphere began to hit fever pitch this week, save the North-East Trade Winds which usually put holidaymakers in the celebration mood.
The momentum seems to be gathering fast as the clock ticks in anticipation of the harmattan weather that crowns the year and welcomes the new one.
Interaction with traders of a variety of goods revealed that sellers of perishable commodities, mainly foodstuffs, were yet to enjoy an uptick in demand.
On the other hand, traders of beverages, beauty products such as hair and nails, clothing and related accessories indicated a slight increase in sales as compared to a month or two ago.
However, the traders generally lamented how many people had significantly lost their purchasing power and had very little disposable income.
Despite that, the traders remain optimistic that business would boom in the coming days.
Conversely, some shoppers complained that the exponential rise in prices was making it difficult for them to bring the holiday season home.
They said they could not purchase a similar quantity of item when compared to last year because prices had practically doubled, yet their salaries had not seen any significant increase.
“But it’s Christmas so whether there’s money or not, we will find a way to enjoy with the family. "Maybe not now because of money issues but the significant days in the month, we will,” one male shopper said.
Also, it was observed that most traders in seasonal commodities such as toys and other festive items were busily roaming the streets with the hope of attracting some impulse buyers.
Gifty Akorli, who remained hopeful despite the slow start to the festive season, said, “It’s a bit early to say anything for now. Vegetables are not things you stock like drinks and biscuits so I’m yet to see any difference in sales. But I’m sure by the middle of next week, people will come out to buy.
She, however, lamented that nothing about sales resembled a festive season, adding that the market was as dull as it had been for some time but still hoped that the Yuletide would bring some good tidings.
“I don’t know which one is worse, Christmas during the COVID or this Christmas. We don’t see anything. I’ve been sitting here since morning and I’ve barely been approached. People are not buying. We sit here and yell till our throats hurt,” a disappointed tomato seller said.
She said customers, even regulars, complained bitterly before purchasing as much as GH¢10.00 worth of vegetables, adding “I hope things would turn around as we head into the season."
“I have not seen anything yet. Market is not good and we all know it’s the economy that has made things hard. People don’t have money to spend on a lot of things, but we just started so let’s see,” Emmanuel Ayiri, a trader in poultry said.
He further explained that gone were the days when people used to purchase chicken and keep them at home for weeks in an attempt to fatten them before using them for the intended purpose.
“So as we are now entering the season proper I’m sure they will come. Maybe two or three days before the Christmas holidays, they’ll come.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed. We know the economy isn’t favourable but still people need to enjoy,” he added.
Georgina Seyram Doe explained that even though the atmosphere did not reflect the typical holiday season, she had observed a positive demand for beverages, particularly soft drinks.
“That must be a sign that things may pick up when the real Christmas begins, right,” the trader in beverages and provisions noted.
“Christmas is Christmas. It doesn’t matter how hard things are, people will always have fun. It’s that part of the year when we can completely forget about our problems. So people will come, they’ll come,” she predicted.
A trader in beauty products such as nails, lashes and make-up, Aye Natasha Korteiley, said she had noticed a slight increase in sales as compared to the previous month.
She said her customers, who were mainly beauticians and beauty therapists, had informed her that their clients were making more appointments, especially the week before December 24 onwards and that was causing the uptick sales in such accessories.
“People are gearing up to look nice for the season. Even though there’s no money, our women will still want to look nice for Christmas. So orders are trickling in. It’s not as good as a couple of years ago but times have changed,” Ms Korteiley said.
A second-hand clothes seller, seated adjacent Ms Korteiley chipped in similar sentiments, adding that other than the many complaints about prices, things might just turn around even though it was not as good as she expected.
“From where I sit, I have observed that people are being selective. They don’t want to buy too many items because there’s no money. This is a far cry from what we know Christmas to be. This used to be our cocoa season but now I just don’t know. I hope it gets better,” she said.
Central Business District
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, some market women in the Central Business District (CBD) complained about the high cost of products which had led to low patronage.
Leticia Amevor, who sells Christmas decors, lamented that people had no money to buy and the prices of the items had shot up, affecting sales.
“As you can see, I have stocked my goods but only a few people have been here. Some will even ask about the price and tell you they will come back but end up not coming,” she said.
Ama Comfort, who sells various Christmas items, also expressed worry about the massive increment in prices, which she attributed to the high rate of import duties.
"Patronage is currently slow compared to last year, but we hope things will pick up from next week since Ghanaians like to do last-hour shopping," she assured.
Ms Patricia Appiah also lamented the low patronage of Christmas decors, which usually sold faster during this time of the year, blaming it on the increment in prices.
Some inhabitants said they were being careful about their spending for fear that prices might be arbitrarily increased because of the season.
“For me, I get my stuff even before November ends because prices of goods increase immediately as we get closer to the festive season,” a resident said.
The Daily Graphic also observed that some police personnel had been deployed to the various highways to control traffic ahead of the Christmas festivities, while others operate in the CBD to ensure law and order.