By Paidashe Mandivengerei in Gutu
RURAL Gutu shop owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat in the country’s dire economic situation.
Shop owners travel distances as long as 100 kilometres to Masvingo via Gutu Mupandawana growth point to source for supplies.
Wholesale prices have skyrocketed, and commuter transport owners hired to ferry the goods have also hiked their charges.
In an attempt to put ‘reasonable’ markups and peg prices favourable to their customer base, losses are encountered.
A snap survey conducted by NewZimbabwe.com in Gutu West townships revealed that business was slow.
The situation was further confirmed by customers themselves with four imbibers found sharing a bottle of the popular Chubuku Super brand.
“We can no longer afford several bottles, the prices are steep,” one said customer, sharing his beverage with three friends.
While in previous festive seasons, business owners heavily restocked goods awaiting the arrival of maJoni (those working abroad) visiting their relatives in the areas to wipe out the shelves, this time they did not, for fear of incurring losses.
Econet mobile network, which is only accessible from 11am to 10pm, fans the flames as shop owners find themselves sometimes forced to give their goods on credit with the ever present possibility of customers reneging on their promises to pay.
The alternative, Netone does not connect at all.
Depressed shop owners said the low turn up of customers was not surprising considering the current economic meltdown.
“This Christmas is not so different from any normal days on the calendar.
“With the current economic situation, business is suffering.
“Customer numbers have severely declined. They now prefer to buy basic commodities and stay home with their families, than to spend money on alcohol.”
Another added, “I do not stock perishables anymore as I might incur a loss, it’s no point purchasing bread which people will not buy. It will go stale, even the Lobels delivery truck hardly comes here now.”