With barely two months to Christmas, it appears the buzz that usually heralds the holiday season is missing this time around.
A visit by Citi Business News to the Makola Market in Accra for instance showed that business activities are yet to pick up.
Usually, around this time, traders begin to stock up for the expected sales boom, whiles some celebrants start buying ahead of time.
But despite the usual hassle and bustle of the market, there was hardly any display of the usual Christmas items one would expect to find as the season approaches.
Some of the traders attributed the slowdown in activities mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the importation of goods, and also due to a focus on the general election in December.
They were however hopeful the situation may improve in the weeks to come.
The sale of toys and other items for children, which would normally be recording high sales, has taken a turn this year. Yaa Bor, a trader, has sold these items for the past 15 years.
“At first, sales for Christmas used to start in June. But this year, nothing is happening. It’s not because of the COVID. People don’t have money. People show interest in the goods but cannot buy because they don’t have money. Also, because it’s an election year, people don’t want to spend their money. So I am praying for a change,” she said.
The partial restriction on some forms of social gatherings has affected Nana Owusu Bediako, who deals in disposables for events.
“This Christmas, we are just monitoring the COVID situation. We deal in disposables. And business is only good when there are social functions and now we want to find out whether people will be allowed to gather more. So we are just monitoring. Most of our partners in China for instance, because of the COVID, they are not producing like before. Sometimes getting the stuff is very difficult. Even the import takes time,” said Mr. Bediako.
Isaac Bortey, who has been in business for over 35 years, said he has had to increase prices of all his goods since duties paid on imports have increased.
“There have been huge price changes. Because the goods are not coming, the few that are in the system have been increased.”
Nonetheless, he’s hopeful business will pick up for him to cash-in during Christmas after the usual discount is placed on his goods.
“Usually, during a holiday season, we give some discounts to our customers to entice them to come and buy from here. This year, we can only reduce the discount let’s say from five percent to two percent since times have changed. But we’ll definitely do something to stay competitive.”
The sale of footwear, however, appeared to have picked up slightly for some sellers. Isaac Amponsah said business is as normal as it could be around this time.
“When the Airports were opened we imported goods, we imported goods we bought before the lockdown and are selling those ones. Another batch is also on the way. Despite the COVID, business is still like before; not much has changed” he noted.