The price of beef in Vientiane markets rose by about 10 to 20 percent over Lao New Year, with retail vendors saying that livestock shortages were causing rising prices.
“Slaughterhouses told us we should not bargain over the rising price of beef over the holiday and we had to accept that, otherwise we would have no beef to sell,” said a vendor at Thongkhankham market in central Vientiane.
At the market, vendors sold beef ranging in price from 55,000 kip per kg to 60,000 kip, up from the normal 50,000 kip per kg. The price of beef has been high in recent months due to a short supply of cattle.
Higher demand for beef over the five day holiday put vendors under strong pressure to raise prices despite trade officials saying they would take action against those who used the occasion to hike prices.
Over the New Year period, the price of vegetables, ice and drinks of all kinds saw a slight increase. On the last day of the holiday, some consumers complained they couldn't buy all the drinks and ice they needed.
The retail price of ice in Vientiane rose 100 percent, up from the normal price of 1,000 kip per kg to 2,000 kip. Many people used ice both for their drinks and to throw at each other as part of the festivities.
Ice distributors said they could never cope with the soaring demand for ice over Lao New Year as they were limited by factories' production capacity. The short supply of water is also forcing ice makers to raise their prices over the hot season.
Vendors said the public should accept that prices will rise over the holidays, as sales heat up and they are called on to provide more goods. They said prices should fall back to normal this week when supply meets demand.
They also said retail businesses in Vientiane were doing better this year than in the past as people were earning more money and were prepared to spend over the holiday. Traders also said they were able to sell their goods earlier, and had more time to celebrate the New Year with their family.
Economists said higher consumption was normal over the New Year, adding that this was a good indicator of strong economic growth.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, GDP growth will reach 8 percent this year while average income per capita stands at about US$1,300. The Asian Development Bank has also forecast that economic growth in Laos will remain high at 8 percent in 2012.
The World Bank says Laos will see growth of about 7.5 percent this year but will review its forecast in the middle of this year