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Boom or bust for businesses

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Boom or bust for businesses

by Shahista Rohan-Toefy
13 Dec 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

It is not clear whether it will be a case of win or lose for businesses over this festive period.



Christmas and Eid are on the horizon, but with petrol price increases, another interest rate hike last week, and the National Credit Act putting the squeeze on credit-fuelled spending, businesses are not sure whether it will be boom or bust this season.

There are already indications that business will not be as lively as it was last year.

A manager of Elite Supermarket in Klipfontein Road, who does not want to be named, says they are all geared up for the festive season, but compared to November 2006, this year's business has not been that good.

The manager fears that high petrol prices and increased interest rates will stifle the spending of local shoppers. He is, however, hopeful that they could be surprised by the festive spirit of shoppers. They expect Elite stores to start buzzing from 17 December onwards.

Commenting on trading conditions in the Athlone CBD, Sumaya Taliep, chairperson of the Athlone branch of the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says petrol price hikes and the National Credit Act have definitely constrained business.

But these factors are not the only ones responsible for the decrease. She points out that the establishment of shopping centres such as Vangate Mall and Canal Walk have also played a role in drawing shoppers out of CBDs.

However, she too is hopeful that the special occasions of Christmas and Eid will boost trading in the CBD this month.

She adds that the Athlone CBD recently welcomed new businesses, which will add value to the area. There are also some innovative projects on the cards and if these projects work, businesses can only benefit.

Taliep says, however, that these projects are still in the initial planning phase and could therefore not be discussed in detail yet.

On the upside, Vangate Mall's centre manager, Cinovea Smedley, says she does not expect the petrol price increases to affect the mall that much.

She says they have had positive reports this month from the tenants within the mall.

Her prediction is that Vangate Mall will see more feet and will conduct more business.

The Athlone Night Market will be running in the Athlone CBD from 16 to 31 December.

Organised by the Athlone Informal Traders Association (AITA), the market will run from 18:00 to 21:00/22:00 nightly.

Athlone's ward councillor, Charlotte Tabisher, says the petrol hike might actually count in the favour of the Athlone Night Market.

Tabisher says people are more likely to stay close to their homes and attend the night market, as opposed to going into the city's market.

The Athlone Night Market will have loads of entertainment on offer, including singers and a Carols by Candlelight event, and will be a shopper's paradise.

Tabisher assures that security will be taken care of, while visitors will have access to ablution facilities.

For more information on the night market, phone Jenny Millar on 072 373 5556.

Inspector Ian Bennett from the Athlone Police Station says there has been an increase in robberies, house break-ins and smash and grab crimes. He advises that people be more alert than usual and park their cars where there is security.

People should not leave expensive items lying on car seats, as it could draw thieves' attention. Lastly, people should not assume that they are safe and sound at home. He says even then they should be vigilant.


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