A sign that reads ‘Big Sale’ or ‘Big Discount’ or ‘40pct off’ has been common on windows of shops displaying their items. From furniture to clothing, everything seems to be on sale for the Ethiopian Christmas.
Although the big signs that read ‘Sale’ are tempting, once inside the shop many find that the prices are not at all cheaper, in fact they are not even remotely fair.
“Boutiques are selling jeans for 450 birr and they tell you the original price was 550. But really the price would not be more than 270,” says Berhan Getanhe who used to own her own clothing store.
There has always been the habit of buying new outfits for major holidays; meaning it is also a time where shops that sell both modern and traditional Ethiopian clothing increase their sales.
Holidays also bring huge exhibitions held at the Addis Ababa exhibition Center. People flow to the center by the thousands to get their hands on fair priced items. The Christmas exhibition that is currently in progress is no different.
People usually wait for these events to purchase big things such as sofas, beds and appliances. Price tags are usually pretty fair and the event is an opportunity to purchase everything one needs all in one location, not to mention the live entertainment and the chance to win prizes.
Unfortunately, while everything seems to be on sale, the price of food items remains the same. The preparation of festive food is absolutely imperative for many people, but the soaring food prices have become a headache and it seems as though it will continue to remain so for many holidays to come.
“Every year is the same, so there is no use in complaining. You just buy what you can,” said a young man shopping at the Shola market.
As the just around the corner Ethiopian Christmas celebration also marks the end of the over a month long fasting period, dairy and dairy products as well as poultry are high in demand. Nearly all of the festive foods to be prepared for the holiday require some of those ingredients.
Currently, live chickens are being sold for 120 to 130 birr at the Shola market. Like always, supermarket chickens remain cheaper going for 110 to 120 birr in most stores.
For buying sheep, the price depends on the area. Around Shola market a small sheep is being sold for around 1,300 birr while the bigger sizes go up to 3,000 birr.
Although the quality maybe questionable, for those who do not want to have the sheep slaughtered in their home compound, there are some places that slaughter and deliver.
The other highly sought out ingredient is butter. This irresistible item is and has always been expensive with the top quality kind aka ‘Sheno Lega’ currently selling at 180 per kilo. For those who do not want to be extravagant there is the second grade butter with out any fancy name selling for 140 per kilo.
Although end of fasting and the holiday for many means meat and butter, vegetables also play a key part in the celebration.
The holiday market for food items is not showing anything different than previous ones. Vegetables remain highly priced; good quality onions per kilo are currently being sold at 7.50 to 8.50 birr and tomatoes 10 to 12 birr per kilo, again depending on the quality.
The price of other vegetables is also high; carrots at 11 to 12 birr, potatoes for 1.50 to 4.50 birr and cabbage for 4.50 to 5 birr, all per kilo.
Although garlic has been a food item that has shown a constant price rise for a few years, green peppers also seem to have skyrocketed. They are selling at 30 birr per kilo.
Market places are extremely crowded and loud, especially so during the holiday season. For a different kind of shopping experience, especially for those who are seeking to buy sheep, chicken, goats or other gift items for the family and friends, there is a website that says it provides those things at a fair price and you just need to pick something and order it online.
The website called ethio-souq.com has a list of items along with the price tags. According to the current list, if you want to order a medium size sheep it is going to cost you 2,700 birr with free delivery within Addis Ababa.
If one is looking for a special gift package, the website says people can order a flower, sheep and cake, the price tag is 3,309 birr. Other listed items on the site include different kinds of pastries from different cafes, flowers, bottles of liquors and perfumes, among others.
Regarding payment details, for those living abroad, the website say they can pay directly from their personal Paypal account from anywhere in the world or they can also pay through offline payments such as using services like the Western Union money transfer.
For shoppers with in the country, they can directly go to the office address stated on the website or just use the M-BIRR service.
Although the different kinds of services are available for shoppers that are looking to escape the inconveniences, of chaotic market places most still do prefer to actually travel to the market, so they are able to see touch and smell what they buy.
“I love going to the market during the holiday, other wise it wouldn’t even feel like a holiday. There is just something nice about it, people are usually in a good mood and extra friendly. I think it is more of a culture,” said Genet Worku, a shopper Capital spoke to.
At Capital, we usually advice shoppers to buy what they need on the eve of the holiday as most traders come from out of town and they are egger to return back to their homes. This means that they are willing to go down on the price, as they are in a hurry. However, as the Ethiopian New Year market showed, last minute price slashing does not always happen