Consumers, traders lament increasing prices of foodstuffs, others amid festive season

*Dealers say consumers who come to the markets could not buy everything they plan to buy because there is not enough money in their pockets this year

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

Several Nigerian consumers are lamenting the high cost of food items, and ancillary services forcing them to buy little for huge amounts.

ConsumerConnect reports that amid festive season, prices of products and services have continued to soar in the Nigerian markets.

Likewise, as residents in the oil-rich city of Warri, in Delta State of Nigeria, go about their last-minute shopping for this year’s Yuletide, business activities were not yet felt in the market due to high cost of goods and services in the markets.

Nonetheless, despite the high prices of especially foodstuffs, some residents in the area still managed to come out to the market to see what they could purchase for their families.

A rice dealer simply named ‘Madam London’ told Vanguard that business this year has been the worst since she started the business in the area.

The woman expressed dissatisfaction over low sales this year, which she attributed to the economic situation.

The economic climate has negatively affected the sales of goods and services in marketplaces, the trader observed.

While stressing that sales were drastically slow for virtually every foodstuff in the market, the woman dealer stated that sales were gradually improving because of last-minute shopping.

According to her, “last year, as of this time, people were trooping into the market to buy things.

“But this year, people that come to the market could not buy everything they planned to buy because there is not enough money in their pockets.

“Last year a bag of foreign rice was sold for about N25,000 while Nigerian rice was sold for about N18,000; but today, foreign rice is sold for N36,000 while Nigerian rice is sold for N25000.

“Things are hard and people are finding it difficult to survive.”

Mrs. Ese Onoriode, another trader at Igbudo Market in the city, who deals in children’s shoes and clothes has blamed the low sales to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Business has been very low since the COVID-19 came in March this year. As if that was not enough EndSARS brought its own problem to the already bad situation,” Mrs. Onoriode stated.

The trader noted that “children’s shoes that were sold for N5,000 last year are being sold for N8,000 this year.

“Christmas sales this year are very slow, unlike last year’s.”

In a related development, for many Nigerians, the Christmas season is a time to be merry, a period to give, share love and receive the same.

This is usually expressed through gifting of valuable items to friends, loved ones, colleagues among others.

However, the Christmas celebration for the year 2020 seems bleak for many, as Nigerians are lamenting the high cost of food items, forcing them to buy few products for huge amounts.

Some traders and other Nigerians also spoke about the grave socio-economic situation, reports SaharaReporters.

Grace Onyebuchi, who deals in foodstuffs such as rice and beans alongside her husband who seemed downcast when approached by a correspondent, said her store, which is usually packed with customers during Christmas, was deserted except for the display of the wares.

When Onyebuchi was asked for the price of a tin of rice, she muttered an amount and her husband screamed from behind, “If you don’t know the cost of the market, ask me! Did we buy it at that amount?”

Onyebuchi, whose entrepreneurial spirit had been downplayed, moved to one side of the store, leaving her husband to attend to customers.

She disclosed that the low sales turnout had discouraged business owners, saying that for her, this year’s Christmas is not like previous ones.

She stated: “Let me be sincere with you, people are not really coming out to buy foodstuffs like they did in previous years. And I won’t blame them, it’s just that there is no money out there, so what will they use to buy?

Traders in Nigerian market    Photo: Vanguard

“The few that come out to buy food items are buying little. We are only getting customers now because people must eat.”

The dealer, however, said the costs of food items had even reduced unlike how it was during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The woman said: “The prices of rice and some other food items are still better now unlike during the lockdown but you can’t compare the situation to what we experienced around previous Christmas seasons. How much was a bag of rice last Christmas?”

Joshua Fashola, a businessman, who sells frozen foods in the market couldn’t hide his anger as he bellowed: “Na person wey get money dey buy plenty things for Christmas (It is somehow who is rich that can buy lots of things for Christmas).”

To Joshua Fashola, people are not really buying chickens and turkey that are commonly purchased during Christmas because of the state of the economy in in the country.

He said: “People are struggling and you know, we are really worried and scared of what might possibly happen in January. What if things get more expensive?”

Though the cost of frozen foods keeps increasing, money is not being pumped into the economy at the same rate.

He stressed “there’s no money in circulation, so people can’t really spend like they used to. A pack of turkey that I bought for N12, 000 just two days ago now costs N14, 500. Imagine the cost now, within how many days, and this will likely affect the sales price.”

He said as a Christian who would also be celebrating Christmas, he would only manage his resources so as to survive in 2021.

The situation was similar for Elizabeth Onimen. Her head was delicately placed on the plank behind a heap of yams.

At first glance, she appeared to be taking a nap, but on a closer look, it became obvious that Elizabeth was exhausted and discouraged by the low sales of the day, report said.

As Elizabeth Onimem is concerned, Christmas Eve has always been her best sales day for the year but this year, the situation was different.

But “today (Thursday) is the 24th, just a day to Christmas and my wares are still this much.

She stated: “I restocked yesterday and I’m supposed to have sold all my wares. In the past, I’d have gone to restock this morning but I still have lots of wares.”

The trader blamed worsening insecurity in the country for the hike in the costs of food items.

“If only the government could tackle the issue of insecurity, especially the ones targeted at farmers, things would be better.

“They are killing farmers so many of them are scared to go to their farms. If it were in previous years, you would have seen trucks coming in from the North with yams and potatoes in large numbers but things are really bad this year,” said she.

Onimem pleaded with the Nigerian Government to tackle banditry and kidnapping in the North, so that food items would become more affordable for most consumers.

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