Shop owners resort to street displays

SERIOUS competition for customers has seen retailers displaying their wares on the streets like vendors.
At the beginning of the month, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo gave vendors until June 8 to vacate the city centre, however, the deadline was moved to June 26 by minister of Small to Medium Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni.

A survey conducted by the Weekend Post, showed the desperation among shop owners who are vying for the same customers with street vendors.

In the downtown areas of Harare, shop assistants are seen frantically taking mannequins out of shops and displaying them on the pavements in order to lure customers.

A shop assistant at a clothing boutique said every day her boss instructs them to take between five and seven mannequins to the pavements.

She told this publication that her superior had noticed that business had taken a sharp slump following the influx of vendors in front of their shop.

“Vanhu vemabhero vanouya vowaridza hembe dzavo pamberi peshop yedu. In the end, muridzi weshop anoti tiburitse zvidhori kuti macustomer awone stuff yatinayo (People selling their second-hand clothes display their clothes in front of our shop, prompting the shop owner to ask us to take the mannequins and display them on the streets),” she said.

A shop owner who only identified herself as Marjory had no kind words for vendors saying they had ruined her business.
Marjory said apart from displaying their shoes in front of her shop, they are very rude to customers going into her shop.
“Just because I have resorted to competing with them for customers does not mean they have to be rude to my clients. Only recently a customer came into the shop complaining of how a woman seated outside told her she was stupid for buying from a shop,” Marjory said.

She said because of the extended period they were given by government to move to designated sites, they have also increased all in a bid to capitalise from the grace period.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers chairperson Denford Mutashu told the Weekend Post that it was normal competition between retailers and nomadic vendors.

He said his organisation has been engaging with vendor organisation leaders so that they relocate to designated sites in line with the Cabinet directive.

Mutashu said because vending is now a recognised trade in Zimbabwe, there was need  for them to be given decent trading spaces.

“In areas like Epworth you find that the competition is so stiff that retailers actually take out boxes of wares to lure customers to their shops.

“The problem was that there was no regulation of vendors hence their behaviour to just put up in front of shops and this has negatively impacted many businesses,” he said —Helen Kadirire

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