14 July 2009

Cameroon: Yaounde Supermarkets Down Prices

Most business people say it is aimed at disposing of old stock especially during the back-to-school period.

There is a visible drop in the prices of products in most supermarkets in Yaounde of late. The phenomenon that appears to be fast gaining grounds with time is looked upon by observers as a marketing strategy which seeks to rally customers. But a critical look tells of a move which appears inevitable.

Most of the supermarkets are employing every available means to inform the public of the drop. NIKI for example has placed banners in strategic localities in town and in front of their shops with inscriptions like “Soldes grandioses tout doit disparaitre” while SUCSOBA has its own as “Soldes generale”, to name just a few. Others like La Beleize, Plaza, La Plaz Lux and Trekenis, have written visible placards on the entrance to the shops with inscriptions “Grande Promotion” which ranges between 10 to 50 per cent reduction in prices.

In La Beleize for example, there are chairs whose prices have dropped from CFA 36,000 to 26.000, weighing machines from 39,000 to 24,000 and dinning tables from 179.000 to 119.000. To show proof of the reduction, the officials have placed notes on each product showing the old and new prices.

According to R.K. Ramani, one of the managers of La Beleize, the drop in the prices is a marketing strategy that seeks to meet up with the challenges of the global economic crisis characterised by a drop in the purchasing power of customers and serious competition from other business people that are employing every means to survive. He said business is driven towards minimising cost and maximising profits but that the business graph is never always straight. “There are good times and there are bad times and a business man needs to be dynamic and have a long-term vision”. The Pakistan-born Indian said, to cope in times like this, there is need for a practical approach, one of which is reducing prices. He said this would help them to dispose of the old stock especially during the back-to school period. “In business you need a quick turnover to be able to make returns even if it is small”, he said.

The effervescence at NIKI is almost the same. Though workers there declined to talk to the press on grounds that there were not authorized, the old prices (cancelled) and the new ones could be seen placed on each product. At ARNO, we were made to understand that the promotional sales are going on in Douala and that Yaoundé will take the relay in the days ahead.

Customers we met in these shops saluted the move and said it would greatly help many of them to obtain certain products with the limited means at their disposal.

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