While the Competitions and Consumer Authority (CCA) has on many occasions made a claim that it is closely monitoring goods sold by retailers to shield them from overshadowing small businesses, it appears that the brawl between retailers and small business operators is far from over.
Kgang Kgolo ya Bagwebi, a newly established association has indicated that a lot of street vendors are discouraged by the competition from retailers. The Association interim Secretary Kgalalelo Gaborone said it is shocking to be seeing a lot of small stuff suited for small businesses on the shelves of retail outlets.
“We are tired of pleading for protection from these outlets but it seems that government is hands-tied on the issue. We cannot be having retailers competing with street vendors by selling kwik recharge and hand packaged chips for instance. I doubt there will ever be growth in our businesses because every single time there is a bit of recovery we are then taken aback by retailers who sell the same products as us,” she said.
She added that they previously engaged CCA on the matter but no concrete decision was taken to protect street vendors. “We are greatly concerned because government always state that small businesses have the potential but then how do we grow when we are in competition with such established retailers, that is unfair and government should now tell us the way forward,” added Gaborone.
The Association mouthpiece indicated that government should come up with a list in terms of goods and services that can be provided by retailers to avoid confusion.
“We have previously engaged Members of Parliament and Councilors to take up this issue with government but there is little effort coming from their end, so we thought that maybe joining hands as a group and approaching government will be a great idea,” stated Gaborone.
Early this year, it was reported that CCA revealed that it is still probing some retail giants for reportedly stifling competition.
In its latest annual report, the Authority indicates that it commenced conducting a market inquiry on In-house brands in the year 2015 to 2017.
“One of the findings of the market inquiry indicated possible abuse of market power by different retailers/ wholesalers use of in-house branded products to stifle growth of family brands,” reads the report. It states that, “The behaviour is alleged to possibly be practised by Spar Wentzel Group, Tsetseng Retail Group, Choppies Enterprises Limited, Sefalana Group, Pick N Pay, Shoprite/ Checkers/ Usave and Eureka/ Trident Group.” Meanwhile the street vendors revealed that they planning to petition the government to protect their businesses from possible collapse as a result of competition they face from well-established retailers.