On November 1, the Christmas shopping season officially began in Venezuela. The Superintendency of Fair Prices (SUNDDE) has launched their 2014 Merry Christmas Plan....
The plan coincides with the government’s economic strategy, informally known as the Dakazo, that mandates stores maintain “fair prices” on key items. The idea is to protect the end-of-year Christmas bonus Venezuelan employers are obliged to pay their workers.
To ensure the policy is being followed, President Nicolás Maduro has ordered audits be conducted throughout the country. The government sent out Círculos de Lucha, inspection teams consisting of 27,100 inspectors, 700 attorneys, and military officers, to certify sales are conducted at prices set by the state.The ghost of Christmas Past;
In 2013, President Maduro ordered military forces to occupy the electronic retail store chain Daka, forcing them to sell at “fair prices.”
Authorities arrested Daka store managers on suspicion of price gouging, and hundreds of Venezuelans rushed to their stores hoping to buy electronics “on sale.” The state reduced the price of kitchen appliance, for example, by 77 percent. One year after the Dakazo, the retail chain has yet to recover: inventories are low, products are scarce, and the number of employees have been significantly reduced.The Christmas Present;
A similar situation played out on Friday, October 31, at the General Import store in downtown Caracas. After President Maduro announced the “sale” over a television broadcast, the public rushed and formed lines outside the store’s doors, even though it remained closed throughout the weekend.
The doors opened on Monday, November 3, at 5 a.m. local time, and more than 600 people entered the store to shop at government-issued prices. Military officers monitored the sales, limiting customers to three items per person, and only one item of each kind.
Customers complained about the store’s lack of inventory, especially the shortage of popular dolls. By Wednesday, all Barbie dolls and Max Steel toys sold at the regulated price were sold out in all eight General Import stores.Imagine that.