Informal traders face huge financial losses

2020-04-28 06:00
The Phillips family’s fruit and vegetable stall has made roughly a 50% loss of income since reopening about two weeks ago. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

The Phillips family’s fruit and vegetable stall has made roughly a 50% loss of income since reopening about two weeks ago. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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While many retailers have experienced significant losses in revenue since having to close their doors at the start of the national lockdown, informal traders say they are feeling the pinch the most.

According to four informal traders, this is because the sale of their goods is their only source of income to support their families.

Jadine Phillips, an informal trader selling fruit and vegetables, says: “We were closed since the lockdown; they gave us letters to say that we had to close. And we’ve been open about two weeks now. We heard on the news that we can trade again, but it was a mission. We had to get a Covid-19 permit to trade.”

Due to the reduced number of people on the roads sales at roadside stalls have dropped considerably. Phillips has significantly less money to support her family of 10.

“The sales are not like they used to be since we reopened. We’re making about half of what we used to,” she explains.

Eddie Thompson, an informal trader selling snoek, says he also recently began retailing his goods again. He says some days are better than others. He adds that on Tuesday 21 April was very bad. “We only sold about 14 pieces of fish for the whole day. We usually sell 80 to 100 a day,” he says.

This has also had an impact on his family who rely solely on his livelihood for a source of income. He sources his fish from fisheries in Lambert’s Bay, more than 200km from where he sells them, resulting in mounting costs and diminished profits.

Another fruit and vegetable trader, Riedwaan Jacobs, says reopening his stall has been difficult. “Before the permit, I had no income at all. Even the people who work with us here (in the road), they couldn’t work – and they earn a day-to-day living here. They depend on this and the police come and arrest them.”

Isaac Hendricks, who makes his money doing odd jobs around retail centres, says he hoped to continue working during the lockdown. “I help people with the bags, coming out of the shops. I help people by the houses. Any way that I can, I help for some change. But the police hit me – and they hit hard!”

Jacobs adds that people have to run away from whenever the police come. “So it’s not working out,” he says.

Richard Isaacs, a trader who operates nearby, says he also encountered several problems when attempting to reopen, but he persevered to feed his family of five. “If I deduct everything, I go home with only R1 000 profit a week. I must pay the guys, pay the rent, and we weren’t here for almost two weeks.”

On Friday 1 May the lockdown will move to level four, creating much needed income for many. However, with no other sources of income, traders will continue to struggle.

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