Small businesses operating in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) say they have resorted to opening their shops on weekends and extending operating hours as a way to boost sales.
Most shop owners who spoke to NewsDay last week said they now open shops early in the morning and close around nine in the evening to accommodate as many customers as possible and pocket every possible dollar.
A survey conducted over the weekend showed retail shops in the clothing, vehicle spare parts and other businesses now operate their businesses for more than 13 hours a day.
In most cases, Saturdays and Sundays are now being treated like any other normal working day.
Before the introduction of the multi-currency regime, most shops used to operate at most half the day on Saturday and hardly opened on Sunday. But now things have changed.
Diana Manyora, manager at a clothing shop, Beaver Canoe, said they now operate seven days a week and the move is proving to be beneficial to the company as several customers now prefer shopping on weekends.
“It is a trend that January is associated with little business, but despite that, we open Sundays,” said Manyora. “Even if three people turn up on Sunday, that accounts for something.”
She said the company was also benefiting from the coming into the CBD of many churches as they now have customers who shop after church services.
Spares 24 sales representative Tendai Nyani said the spares company operates six days a week with Saturday being regarded as a normal working day.
“We open six days a week and on Saturday we close at 5pm, just like on any normal working day,” said Nyani.
He said opening on Saturday was alright as it was normally an off-day for many workers and usually people would want to shop around more freely.
Another shop assistant Brian Kanduna said: “Saturday is now counted as a working day.
We operate like on any other working days,”
A bookshop assistant Liston Munyanyi said despite opening on weekends, they recorded more business during the week.
“Our motive for opening on weekends was to capture the student market that attends lectures on weekends,” he said.
The bookshop has in stock primary level texts and secondary and higher education books.
“For us business is actually booming as this is the first term of the year where parents spend a lot in shopping for their school children,” said Munyanyi.
Samantha Chiona, a shop assistant with a cosmetic, jewellery and hair salon, said Saturday was now a normal business day for most retailers as there was stiff competition for sales.