Several visits to Game Stores in Lilongwe and Blantyre this week by Nyasa Times revealed that the once well stocked shops are now stuck with depleted shelves some that have been empty for more than three days now.
This comes just three weeks after Game issued a statement disputing Nyasa Times story that their warehouses have run out of stock due to forex shortages and an internal plan to downsize and eventually close shop in Malawi whose economy has been in a coma for the past 16 months.
The empty shelves has affected some customers who wanted to buy items on promotion this weekend but failed to do so as the items were nowhere to be seen.
Last month when Nyasa Times first published the story, Game Stores swiftly issued a statement saying it will continue to deliver “an exciting retail shopping experience in Malawi”.
But this weekend, numerous attempts by Nyasa Times to get details from Game Malawi Manager Ina Boonzaaier on why their stocks were not on shelves for days failed as she kept asking for more time “sSo that I get clear facts on what is happening on the ground.”
However, our sources who leaked the earlier story of the shop’s closure said many Malawians were in denial about the breakdown of the economy.
“There is a problems of taxes and forex shortages presented to government to address and the next the President himself questioned how we use forex. This has angered executive management and we are now really going down with it,” said the source.
Game Stores have been struck with a double-edged sword of government inefficiencies and greed as they find it more than difficult to remit sales proceeds to and import items from South Africa where most of its stocks come from because of Malawi’s lack of foreign exchange.
Secondly, the two per cent turnover tax introduced by government in the 2011/2012 ‘Zero-deficit budget’ has drilled a large hole in Game Stores revenues and other retailers in the country so hard due to the high volume to sales, but low profit margin of the business.