With just a few days to the celebration of Christmas, traders have positioned themselves in the markets in anticipation of a sales boom this season.
They have displayed a wide variety of goods which are mostly patronised by shoppers during the Yuletide. In shops, big or small, on table tops on the pavements of every street in the business district of Accra, for instance, traders are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to attract the most of shoppers during the period.
On a visit to the various market centres in Accra, it was revealed that unlike some other years, the prices of goods meant for the celebration of Christmas have remained fairly stable, perhaps, as a result of the fierce competition among the traders.
At the CBD area, which is the hub of trading in clothing and other personal accessories, brand new kids clothing are going for GH¢35 upwards, just around the same price last year. Similarly, shoes for kids are ranging between GH¢25 and GH¢40 depending on the type and quality preferred by customers. Also, Christmas hats, sunglasses, hairbands and watches for kids are also selling for between GH¢2 and GH¢10.
Women and men apparel, sewn with different materials and in assorted colours and designs are also from GH¢40 upwards, while prices of shoes also start at the same price.
For those who desire to sew their own clothes, there is also on display, a wide array of lace, flowered and plain materials both locally made and imported, on display. Some of the cloths are going for between GH¢8 and GH¢15 per yard depending on the quality. Valuable, authentic Ghanaian prints such as Printex, ATL and GTP are going for a minimum of GH¢85 for six yards.
Also on display are decorative Christmas items from GH¢10 upwards. For instance, a 4-feet green Christmas tree is going for GH¢32 on the average.
For food items, depending on the brand, a 5-litre bottle of cooking oil sells at GH¢40 upwards, 2 litres for GH¢22 and one litre at GH¢8.
A large-sized canned mackerel goes from GH¢4 upwards depending on the brand; corned beef is also selling at GH¢8 at the least.
Rice is a common staple during festive seasons and this is the period when traders in this common staple make money. On the average, a 5-kg bag of rice is selling at GH¢27, 25kg at GH¢140, 50kg from GH¢200 upwards depending on the brand (local or imported rice).
A 5kg live broiler goes from GH¢45 upwards, while the layer is selling at GH¢40 upwards. For food stuffs, about five medium-sized tubers of cassava go for GH¢5. A tuber of yam is selling at GH¢5, a bunch of plantain at GH¢15 upwards.
A medium-sized basket full of tomatoes sells at GH¢65, pepper at GH¢20, onions at GH¢30 while garden eggs is going for GH¢12.
A quantity of fresh vegetables such as sweet pepper, carrots, spring onions, cabbage, lettuce, green beans are also selling from GH¢5.
A carton of non-alcoholic beverage sells at GH¢20 while the alcoholic beverages are from GH¢70.
Many companies have also taken advantage of the season and are currently running promotions on various items ranging from kids’ clothes, hair extensions, ladies accessories and other items on online platforms, as well as in the market places where they have their outlets.
Also heavily advertised are electrical appliances such as fridges, cookers, washing machines, blenders, television sets and mobile phones among many others. These are also displayed in different brands with traders pricing to outdo each other.
What the traders say
Interactions with traders, however, revealed that they were divided in their expectations of how sales would turn, due to the apparent slow start in business.
While some are hopeful of increasing sales, others have given up on any anticipated boom in sales, explaining that sales would have picked up by now if they were indeed in for a bumper harvest during this festive season.
Although the traders are fully ready for business, it appears patrons are yet to catch up with the euphoria that would translate in more cash for the traders.
While some have gone as far as reducing their wares by 50 per cent, others have varied theirs between 10 and 30 per cent all in a bid to boost sales.
Hair extensions that originally cost GH¢900 have been slashed to GH¢450. Prices of mobile phones have also been discounted with companies running various adverts in both the traditional and social media ahead of the festive season.
For Madam Ophelia Nyantakyi who trades in men’s shirts, children’s clothing and ladies handbags, business was good. She expressed optimism that sales would pick up during the Christmas break.
She said no matter how slow sales turned out, she was able to at least sell some of her wares before going home.
“Business is good because this year is better than last year. Since school reopened, people have been buying so I have been able to continue trading without going for a loan to buy goods this Christmas.”
“At least we have some capital to trade with this Christmas. I know sales will pick up so there is no cause for worry,” she said in an interview.
Another trader, Mr Charles Kumi, who deals in men’s footwear, told the team that although sales hadn’t been stable, it was likely to pick up in a few days to Christmas.
“Yesterday, for instance, I made GH¢600 but three days earlier it was about GH¢1,200. It is not stable but I believe that sales would pick up starting from next week,” he said.
For some traders who interjected intermittently during the interviews, the fact that they were alive and could even come to the market to trade was enough motivation that sales would be good.
For a section of the traders, last year’s Christmas was more lucrative for them compared to this year as they were yet to fully come to terms with how sales would turn out in the next few days.
During an interaction with Madam Grace Quansah who sells ladies accessories, she said, sales had been very slow and she was yet to see the excitement heralding the festive season.
Although she was expecting sales to pick up, she wasn’t so excited about the slow nature of business in the build-up to Christmas.
“Let me be honest with you, this year’s sales have been very slow. Last year was far better,” she said.
The visit to the market, popularly called Makola, showed that traders were ready for brisk Christmas. The market was now overly populated as non-regular traders have decided to take advantage of the season to also sell some products.
A young trader who preferred to be only known as Korkor told the team that more people had joined in the trading business because of the season and as result, a lot of them had to share the already declining profit margins.
“Now we are a lot, and sales is slow. I have not made any sales since I got here this morning but I am hopeful of making some sales next week,” she said.
Although there were a lot of patrons in the market, a businessman trading in laces, Mr Kwabena Baafi told the team most of them were window shoppers.
“A lot of people are in town but they are not buying anything. Last year was very good, but this year, I don’t even know what is happening,” he said.
He did not mince words in expressing his disappointment, explaining that sales should have picked up by now as he continues to record the same old sales and sometimes lower even as people prepared for Christmas.