Traders Blame Low Sales On Hiked Prices, Lockdown Effects

Several business operators in Kampala’s central business district are reporting poor sales this Christmas season. Although Christmas is just a day away, the traders say they are yet to make the sales they often make in this season.

This is the first Christmas since the government fully reopened the economy following the two-year lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to the traders, business is still very low compared to the previous seasons before the lockdown.

Mariam Ndagire, a dealer in first-class shoes, says that although there are people in town, the majority are just passing through without making any purchases. She says that the biggest number of those approaching her shop, offer very little money which eats into her profit. 

Ndagire says that she invested a lot of money in the business hoping to reap big this Christmas season, but she has only registered 30 percent of the returns she expected to make during this period.

For Suleiman Lutalo, a dealer in lady’s ready-made garments, the situation is not different from that of Ndagire irrespective of dealing in different items. He says that a day can end when he has made only ten transactions which is very unusual during festive seasons.

“In the past, by this date, we could have sold up to 80 percent of the merchandise we would have stocked for the season, but now when I look through my books, I have only sold 30 percent,” he explained.  

Brenda Nakitto, another dealer in lady’s garments, says that to her this year’s experience is worse off than that of last year when the country was still under lockdown. She explains that by December 22, she had only sold 10 percent of her expected returns.

According to Nakitto, the new tax measures on imported textiles and garments and the COVID-19 lockdown effects worsened the situation leading to increasing prices and disrupting incomes among Ugandans.  

Ibrahim Ssenyondo, an importer of textile fabrics blames the poor sales on the lockdown, adding that he believes that things will take longer to return to where they used to be because many people don’t have incomes at the moment and cannot spend what they don’t have. He says that many people are even struggling to find what to eat.   

He also explains that most of their foreign trading partners ran away. “Most of our Congolese, Rwandese, and South Sudanese traders ran away when we increased item prices to cover up for the tax increment. Now we are mostly selling to the Ugandan market, that’s why you see this situation,” Ssenyondo said.

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