April 24, 2011

ETHIOPIA: Less Holiday Cheer (s)

ADDIS ABEBA, Ethiopia / AddisFortune / Matters / April 24, 2011

Last week, liquor sellers complained that sales have been down lately and few of them expected business to improve towards the end of the week, as the Easter festivities drew nearer, writes Elias Gebreselassie, Fortune Staff Writer.

Taddesse Tesema, a married man with a son, was scanning the assortment of liquor on display at a shop near Balezaf Alcohol Factory located on Dejazmach Wolde Mikael Street near Hotel D’Afrique when he noticed champagne made by Awash Winery Co. The drink would be a suitable gift for the wedding of his best friend at the end of last week and he bought two bottles at 95 Br each.

“Except for holidays when I usually buy local wine, I do not normally drink alcohol because of my religious beliefs,” Taddesse told Fortune.

However, following the government’s price cap on beer, the wine appeared expensive to Taddesse.

“In addition, I also have the issue of buying bonds for the building of the Renaissance Dam to ponder, as I intend to buy bonds soon after Easter,” he said.

This attitude is indicative of the consumers feeling the pinch of rising livings costs on their wallets, which in turn is felt by retailers.

Kebede Hailu, the shopkeeper, reckoned the holiday season shopping bug had not reached his shop yet. He was counting on the days shortly before Easter for bumper sales.

“My customers, the majority of whom are young people, usually purchase Ouzo araqe [48 Br] although a substantial number of older people buy export standard local wine in the small [30 Br] or large size [55 Br] during the holiday season,” Kebede told Fortune.
His customers hold a variety of tastes. Older men prefer Ouzo araqe and Dry Gin, followed by whiskey around holiday times, mostly to serve as gifts. Women bought more wine, while young people preferred Supermint and pineapple flavoured araqe....

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