For some time now, the general refrain from most traders in Accra and other trading posts in the country has been “sales are bad this Christmas”.
Anytime they are pressed further to provide reasons for their assessment, they would retort, “sales last year were better”.
So every year at Christmas, some traders complain about low sales, which is normally attributed to harsh economic conditions
But, the picture on the streets is quite different from the impression created by the traders as there are gridlocks on roads in all major cities leading to the central business districts (CBDs).
Commuters have doubled or tripled in the cities and the pavements have been taken over by traders, making movement in the markets and walkways quite a difficult task.
For about a week now, and with only three days to Christmas Day, Accra and the other cities are under siege.
The CBDs are bustling at the seams and commuting to those areas during rush hours is a nightmare
Shop owners, traders and vendors have told the Daily Graphic that the next 72 hours is going to be hectic and they expect to reap what they could not reap throughout the year.
Traders dealing in foodstuffs are happy about the abundance of all kinds of farm produce, but again, they complain that although food is in abundance, people are not buying
In Accra, Seth J. Bokpe reports that the national capital is choked with human and vehicular traffic but, as usual, traders are lamenting low patronage.
The traders, who said they were disappointed, indicated that many of the customers were doing window shopping.
Prices of vegetables,including tomatoes, pepper, garden eggs and those of foodstuffs such as plantain and yam had reduced but traders indicated that their sales were not matching with the thousands of people who had besieged the CBD.
Also affected by the low sales are edibles, including cooking oil, tinned tomatoes and rice. For these products, however, the prices had skyrocketed, a situation some traders attributed to the exchange rate of the cedi and taxes at the ports.
A bucket of tomatoes, for instance, which this time last year cost GH¢35, is now going for between GH¢8 and GH¢15, depending on where it is bought and the buyer’s bargaining power.
A tin of pepper, which went for about GH¢15 last year, is now between GH¢3 and GH¢ 5, while garden eggs is down from GH¢20 to GH¢10.
An average size of a tuber of yam, which was GH¢10 last year, is now between GH¢ 5 and GH¢7 and depending on a buyer’s shrewdness, it could be less.
A bunch of plantain, which was between GH¢30 and GH¢40 last year now sells for between GH¢15 and GH¢20, but at the Agbogbloshie Market, quantities of the produce were rotting away because the traders claimed “there is no money in the system.
Christmas shoppers at the Central Business District of Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Ms Naomi Tagoe, a tomatoes seller opposite the National Investment Bank in Accra Central, told the Daily Graphic that, “Almost every buyer is complaining that there is no money in the system but there are so many people coming to town. Although last year was not that good, I sold a lot more than this year and at that time prices of goods were a little higher.”
A shoe seller also said: “Shoes sold last year for GH¢ 25 are now between GH¢10 and GH¢15 but people are not buying much, they just ask for prices and say they will come back.”
Typical of the national capital, pedestrians, motorists, shoppers and hawkers are caught in big city traffic and pedestrian jams in the CBD where streets and pavements have been taken over by traders as far as to the Graphic Road.
From all indications, it will remain so for the next few days as the pre-Christmas business hustle approaches its climax.
At the Melcom Shopping Mall in Achimota, the shelves containing drinks had been emptied but the supermarket was without the huge crowds that usually stretch beyond the cashiers.
From Tamale, Samuel Duodu reports that although the Northern Regional capital is predominantly Muslim, non-Muslim residents are preparing feverishly towards the Christmas holidays with increase in business activities in the CBD.
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