Street Vending: An Introduction and Overview

PIDE Knowledge Brief No. 39:2021
Author: Abbas Moosvi
Publication Year : 2021

The widespread phenomenon of street vending, particularly in the developing world, is a fascinating one. With gradual industrialisation, countries in the Global South have experienced significant levels of urban migration—people moving out of their rural settings in the search for better economic opportunities in closer proximity to commercial hubs (Recchi, 2020). Lacking formal education, these working-class individuals gravitate towards the informal economy, characterised by spontaneity, low (and in some cases non-existent) levels of regulation, long work hours, and perpetual improvisation. Defined as “the production and selling of goods and services in urban public spaces, which is not officially regulated by the law and is carried out in non-permanent built structures,” street vending has risen to prominence in both positive and negative ways—on the one hand, functioning to fill important gaps in the market at affordable rates, and on the other contributing to congestion, pollution, and general ‘disorderliness’ (Recchi, 2020, p. 4). The objective of this brief is to outline and explore the street vending trade in terms of its occupants, governance structures, operational dynamics, and determinants of success —proposing policy recommendations and prospects of the informal sector.

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