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Traders stock-up for christmas but decry heavy taxes

Danube home off Kampala road. They have already decorated for Christmas appeal

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  Importers and retailers in Kampala have started stocking up for the Christmas festivities with anticipation for bumper sales in the season.  

Several traders, however, said they have faced heavy taxes which means they will bring in fewer goods than they did last year.  But Shoppers will pay a little higher compared to the 2018 season, with traders saying they have seen taxes on imported goods go up, especially those government said had local substitutes.

Felix Joseph Leo, the Danube Homes operations manager says they have had to pay 35 per cent import duty up from 25 per cent for the home decor products in the last financial year.

Danube Homes, dealers in home furniture along Kampala road have already decorated their outlet with Christmas lights, bright colours, and stocked Christmas gifts in preparation for the sales.  

The Operations manager says they had brought in stocks from Italy and Netherlands specifically for the season.

The mood in downtown Kampala is still low although traders are taking up space in new buildings including Totala Business Centre to settle before the Christmas shopping heats up, one said. 

Florence Zzimwe, the director Perfect Shoes limited a long Burton Street said their planned stocking is for mid-November. She said, however, that for some time now they have observed that people increasingly take Christmas as other normal days and they no longer do many impulse buys.

In the old Kikuubo place, traders said they had not seen an increase in traffic or any unique purchases that indicate people might be buying for Christmas holidays.

Sauda Nampijja, a sales person for Interior World at Eco plaza off Luwum street said last year they benefited from the Christmas season because there was money.

She said that at the moment people are still few but they hope for the more numbers as Christmas draws closer. She also decried high taxes.

In the forex market, the Uganda shilling has lost some value, trading above 3700 against the US Dollar on Monday. In the previous month, it traded in the 3670/80 Shilling range against the US Dollar.

This means there is more demand for the dollar than usual. Forex dealers quoted the local currency against the Dollar at 3707 for buying and 3730 Shillings for selling on Monday.

Stephen Kaboyo, the director of Alpha Capital, said the spike today was largely because of the interbank demand that is not backed by sufficient supply of the hard currency. 

He said importers’ demand has not been reflected, a pointer that the shilling may lose more ground as traders demand Dollars to bring in goods for Christmas. But this will depend on how traders gauge the market.

“Importer demand has really not kicked in as we normally see at this time of the year which can be attributed to broadly low demand pressures in the economy,” he said.

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