Umm Salal Fish Market is yet to see any improvement in customer footfall, much to the discomfort of the vendors even a month after of its opening.
Fish vendors say that their stock still leftover on a daily basis due to lack of customers, which forces them to keep off the daily auctions.
But hypermarkets seem to be making the best of this situation. Hypermarkets are buying fish at throwaway prices and selling them at much higher rates. Also fish lovers in Doha prefer going to hypermarkets as even though the price is far lower at the market at Umm Salal, majority of individual customers are reluctant to go to a far-away market.
“Despite a sharp decline in auction price of fish, there are few takers at the market. Sherry fish auctioned at QR60 per 40kg last week, was left unsold at the shops even after 12 hours of sale. The same variety of sherry auctioned to a hypermarket chain at the same rate was sold for QR14 per kg through their outlets,” a vendor at the market said.
“As we are struggling for survival due to the shortage of customers, we have to keep the minimum price at the auction. Earlier, we were competing with hypermarkets and exporters as they had to depend on whatever was left by the vendors at the market. Now, the vendors have no option but to withdraw from auction. We are somehow surviving on direct sales to customers,” he explained.
Previously, about 80 percent of local harvest was auctioned by the vendors and the entire quantity sold out to local customers at the market itself.
After the market was shifted to Umm Salal, the number of customers has steadily declined and most of the vendors would have to refrain from auction as their stock has is left unsold due to lack of customers.