Venezuelan economic crisis impacts consumer choices

World Today

With Venezuela gripped by hyperinflation, buying food and medicine is a struggle for the country’s citizens.

Even buying shoes is beyond the reach of many. The shoe chamber in Caracas has revealed that Venezuelans are only able to afford one shoe per year and say the industry is working at just 10% of capacity.

CGTN’s Mary Triny Mena reports.

Window shopping is the closest Milagros de Sousa is able to get to a pair of new shoes. This single mother of twins can’t afford new sneakers for her daughters who are about to start school.

“It’s very difficult to buy shoes in Venezuela,” De Sousa said. “It depends on your salary. I earn minimum wage, which is not enough to buy a pair of shoes costing 400,000 or 500,000 bolivars.”

At home, food is the priority. While the closet is almost empty. The shoes that are in here, are used all year long regardless of the weather or the activity.

“We honestly have just one pair of shoes,” De Sousa said. “Just one pair of shoes each one of us. And I have two pairs because I work and I need black shoes, but they only have one pair.”

The inability to afford new shoes is evident from the soles of these very worn ones.

Over the last six years, shoe sales have decreased dramatically in Venezuela. In 2012, Venezuelans bought, on average, three pairs of shoes per year. That figure has dropped to just half a pair a year in 2019.

Rather than buying new shoes, people choose to repair their olds ones. Martin Castillo has been working as a cobbler for more than 30 years, he says over the past five years business has been booming because of the country’s economic situation.

“Years ago, you saved money for a month you bought a pair of shoes,” Castillo said. “Not now.”

In the shops though, sales are slow. Here a pair of shoes costs around $40, analysts estimate it takes around two years for many Venezuelans to save enough money to buy new shoes. Meaning shoe sales are becoming rare.

“They come and go,” Reyna Gonzalez, a shoe saleswoman said. “Sometimes they buy one pair and they say they will come back when they have more money or they come in just to compare prices.”

That’s the case with Milagros who returned home empty-handed, who says she will just have to wait until she can save enough money to afford a new pair for either herself or her daughters.