Hawking can be defined as the activities of carrying goods from place to place to sell.

It is the process of carrying goods about on one's head or cart and moving from street to street in search of customers.

A person who hawks goods and services is called a hawker, peddler or simply, itinerant traders.

More appropriately, a hawker is a petty trader who moves from place to place looking for customers while carrying items on a bicycle, his head, or in a wheeled cart.

Hawkers generally sell non-standardized and inferior goods.

Features of Hawking

1. It is a form of small-scale retailing: Hawking is a form of small-scale retailing because they operate on a small scope.

2. Hawkers do not pay rent: Hawkers do not pay rent because they do not have a fixed place of business.

Hawkers are known to carry goods on their heads and trucks, moving from one street to another.

3. Form of advertising: Hawkers use loudspeakers, bells, or outcries to advertise their wares.

4. Small capital requirement: The business of hawking goods can be set up with little capital.

5. A one-man person: Hawking's business is usually owned, financed and managed by one person.

Hence, the hawking business is a one-man business or sole proprietorship.

6. Sells at competitive price:  hawkers do not have to pay for stores or other related business expenses, they can set their prices much lower than those of fixed-shop retailers.

7. Door-to-door selling: Hawkers go from street to street and door-to-door selling to customers.

Advantages of Hawking

1. Small capital outlay: Since one only needs to purchase goods to begin selling, the initial capital outlay for hawking is very low.

This is one of the reasons why hawking is still popular despite being the oldest form of retailing.

2. It is very cheap to operate: To continually run a hawking business, all one needs to do is constantly restock the goods.

It is not necessary to lease a store in order to engage in hawking.

Indeed, hawking is the easiest form of retail trade.

3. Convenience: Hawkers sell goods from street to street and from door to door.

By selling where customers reside, they give place utility to customers

4. Flexibility in the scope of operation: If the product they are selling are no longer profitable, hawkers can easily switch to another type of product.

Hence, they enjoy flexibility in the scope of operation.

5. Create opportunities for self-employment: Hawking gives people the chance to work for themselves, empowering them to support themselves.

Disadvantages of Hawking

1. Exposed to the dangers of accidents: Hawkers are mostly exposed to the dangers of accidents, death or other mishaps.

They run the risk of being engaged in accident as they move from street to street and from road to .

2. Encourages child labour: This is most common in West African countries.

Most hawkers carry their kids around with them to assist them in carrying their merchandise.

3. May result in sexual assault: Girls hawking goods may be sexually exploited by male customers, which may even result in early and unwanted pregnancies

4. Possibility of selling sub-standard goods: Hawkers generally sell non-standardized goods.

Indeed, hawkers are in the best position to sell adulterated and sub-standard goods because goods sold by them are non-standardized.

5. Stressful: Hawking is a very stressful business as hawkers carry goods on their heads, or trucks going from street to street, sometimes not even minding the weather conditions.

6. Littering: Many cities and streets are dirty due to the dirt generated by hawkers in the course of their operations.

Hawkers usually drink bottled water, eat food in takeaways, and then dump everything on the ground.

Dirts drop by hawkers are then washed off into nearby drainages, which can block the free flow of water and cause flooding.

7. Noise pollution: To raise awareness for their goods and services, hawkers usually shout on the street, and move about with loudspeakers, thereby constituting noise pollution.

8. Limitation on the number of goods: There are restrictions on the number of items hawkers can sell because they typically carry goods on their heads and in head carts.

Hawkers typically keep the majority of their goods in their homes and only carry a small portion of them while moving from street to street.

9. Limitation on the type of goods: Hawkers cannot sell certain types of goods because of the manner of their business.

For example, hawkers do not sell bulky goods.


Executive summary

In case you forgot, hawking is a type of retail where sellers move from street to street carrying items on their heads or in carts in search of customers.

The main features of hawkings are that it generally deal in non-standardized goods, they do not pay rent and they are usually a one-man business.

The main advantages of hawking are that it makes goods easily available at the doorstep of the customers, flexibility in operations.

The main disadvantages of hawking are they are not reliable in terms of product quality as they usually sell inferior goods and may sometimes sell adulterated goods. 

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