Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Slow Christmas market, slow everything this season

Genna’s spirit is always high and vibrant, but the holiday market seems to have gotten a bit slower and quieter. “Business is very slow” is a common complaint from basically everyone, from big companies to small shop owners; it is an unusually slow season.
According to vendors at the at the Genna Expo held at the Addis Ababa Exhibition Center, the event hasn’t been getting as many visitors as expected and those that do come are reluctant to spend money. What is to blame, the economy, increasing prices or the devaluation of the birr? These are just some of the reasons people give.
As expected, the holiday market also reflects the slower movement of things as well as not so cheap goods. Food items that are a must for the holiday will, like live chickens and sheep along with butter, all come at a small fortune.
During the holiday week, what is referred to as table butter costs around 58 birr a pack making it 290 birr per Kilo. Normal butter also doesn’t come cheap and has been selling for 250 birr per kilo.
During holidays it is a common scene to see herds of sheep and goats that are to be consumed for the holiday along with men carrying live chickens in neighborhoods. Although it is said the day before a holiday is the best time to by sheep and chicken, as vendors usually get anxious to get rid of their stock and go home, there have been times that this has not been the case; like the past Ethiopian New Year.
During the days leading up to Genna, a small sheep was easily selling for 3,000 birr with a midsized sheep costing 4,000 and above. The delight of having a sheep continues to be out of reach for many during the holiday and those that cannot afford to spend 3,000 birr will simply buy beef from the butchery to make a special meal.
Chicken, another holiday favorite is what many resort to, and for this holiday live birds were selling between 250 and 300 birr. As most people prefer to buy live chickens for religious and freshness reasons, processed frozen supermarket chickens still remain cheaper.
It’s not all about meat, vegetables remain as important during the holiday. Although not a lot of change has been seen with vegetables lately, some items such as garlic which skyrocketed around two years ago, hasn’t shown any difference. Garlic is sold for 60 birr per kilo, red onions which are extremely important for most holiday meals are sold for 16 birr per kilo, an improvement from last holiday when they sold for 18 birr per kilo. Tomatoes are going for 10 birr per kilo, while carrots are 8 birr and potatoes are 7 birr.
The above prices are usually found in open markets, prices at smaller fruit and vegetable kiosks around the city will be higher. As always, in some markets, shoppers will be able to get discounts if they are buying in bulk. Other shops such as Fresh Corner also provide discounts on seasonal produce and are worth checking out.
While it is always fun to go visit holiday expos at the Addis Ababa Exhibition Center; with all the excited crowds, music and food, the shopping experience might be less that fun. Especially looking at imported items such as clothing, household items, accessories and house wear, they all have hiked up prices and the most common reason for this unfair pricing is the fact that the exchange rate of the dollar has increased, making imported goods more expensive. Although that might be true for some things, vendors are also taking advantage of the situation.
The expo, however, remains a really good place to buy locally produced items such as leather products like shoes and bags, and cooking oil, or spices for Ethiopian dishes, as well as pasta and cultural wear.
Besides the giant Christmas trees that stand around malls in Addis and the brightly decorated buildings, at night the city seems to continue with its vibrant nightlife. It seems a large number of Diaspora have come to celebrate Genna at the same time, boosting businesses. Optimistically, the slowing of everything will soon change and with a new kind of spirit in the air that seems to be felt, many are hopeful that things will pick up again.