Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

2 January 2013

Cameroon: Timid Business Take-Off After Xmas, New Year Celebrations

While some businessmen take stock of how business fared, others are trying to dispose of leftovers.

End-of-year festivities (Christmas and New Year) have come and gone and business people are taking stock of how their business fared during the period as the pre-feast hustling and bustling die down. In Yaounde markets Cameroon Tribune visited yesterday January 2, there was general low activity both on the part of sellers as well as buyers, all sectors inclusive.

Foodstuff Sector

At the Mfoundi Market, foodstuffs were on display as usual but the usual effervescence, especially the heat of the feasts, was visibly absent. From bunches of plantain, bags of yam, to cassava, oranges and pineapples, there was more than enough to buy. The presence of those items in large quantities, sellers said, testified of the not-so-vibrant business even prior to the feasts. "If business this time was like in 2011, you wouldn't have found this quantity of plantains here. That tells you that we worked at a deficit," Saloume Ndze, a plantain seller said. While her colleagues lamented over what they termed "poor returns," she disclosed that she lost over FCFA 100, 000. "I invested about FCFA 500,000 into the plantain business and was unable to recover my capital, talk less of making returns," she said. The situation was not different with yam as another seller who declined talking simply pointed at the huge quantity of the unsold produce.

"Since morning, I have not sold up to ten kilogrammes of meat," said, Hilaire. Even though the sales after the feasts are dwindling, he said the 2012 feasts did not bring him good tidings compared to 2011. "On the eve of the feasts in 2011, I sold about 350 kg of meat but in 2012, I sold less than 200 kg. Truly, business was not the best. All along people have been complaining of lack of money," he noted. Although difficult, the business people said they are struggling to sell, even at give away prices, what they had bought given that most if not all the produce are perishable.

Shoes, Dresses... Sectors

The situation is not better for dealers in shoes, dresses and other sectors that pulled crowds prior to the feasts. "Generally, business has not been the best this time around. In 2011, we had customers but in 2012, it was timid, Indian-born Madhav Soni, salesman at the Usharena shop, said as he looked at his item-packed but customer-scanty shop. As CT combed the Yaounde markets, the relaxed business people were seen either discussing among themselves probably on how the business fared or on prospects for the New Year. Some shops were locked and we were told some of the owners were either still resting or had taken a break.

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