Inflatable decorations, bright lights and New Year paraphernalia are back in Mesqel Square as the holiday fair was opened at Addis Abeba Exhibition Centre. Crowds, about 3,000 a day, and expected to be triple as the Ethiopian New Year approaches next week, made their way to the Exhibition Centre to shop, eat, drink and listen to music. Inside were vendors that paid at least 7,000 Br for a square metre to the Exhibition Centre & Market Development Enterprise, which has organised the fair. The vendors, about a third of them foreign, offer consumer goods from furniture to spices and herbs.

The Exhibition Centre is not the only place where a fair is taking place. Millennium Hall is at the other end of Africa Avenue, which has returned to hosting a holiday exhibition for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Less popular than the veteran Exhibition Centre and less expensive, it is being organised by Century Promotion in five pavilions housing over 100 booths.

For vendors participating in the fairs, the return on investment is divergent. Vendors selling fast-moving consumables, especially those considered necessities, like edible oil, are seeing good business. Purchases of goods consumers can do without are not having a great time. This reflects the country's macroeconomic condition, where inflation is high and business activities are slow.

Runaway inflation, which has shown little sign of slowing down, surpassed the 30pc mark in August last year.  It has not slowed down since. The latest figure is no different. Food inflation stands at 35pc with prices for most cereals continuing to rise. Non-food inflation came in at a little over 30pc. Holidays may be a time of festivities, but they are not a shield against high prices.

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PUBLISHED ON Sep 03,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1166]

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