Despite the government's claims that it is moving towards a free market economy, government ownership is still common among large industries. Since independence, there has been an informal privatization of the trading sector as many small shops have sprung up throughout Azerbaijan. Private traders now handle most retail sales. Private business people see trade as relatively low risk in an environment where private ownership rights do not exist. Business and retail hours can vary according to the owner's preference; however, most businesses are open from 9 AM to 6 PM , Monday through Friday. Many businesses and offices also have Saturday hours. Private transactions are primarily in cash. Credit cards are not generally accepted, except in major hotels and restaurants. An 18% value added tax applies to all goods and services.