Economic slump impedes Christmas celebration

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By OSIFO GODFREY

THE continuous depreciation of the Naira against the Dollar and other socio-economic impediments may just be factors that would deny the 2015 Christmas the funfair that it characterizes. Few days to the annual celebration, Nigerians have begun to express surprises over the increasing rate in the prices of goods and services in the country.
A visit to Agege and Oyingbo Market revealed traders lamenting over low patronage this year compared to last year. ”foreign exchange is very high as it is happening at this time of the year. It is affecting cost of both local and imported items. ”Mr. Denis, a foot wear trader, said.
The effect of the insurgence ravaging the North- Eastern part of Nigeria since 2012, killing tens of thousands and rendering several homeless, making farmers to flee from their farmlands, will definitely have a place in the market situation of foodstuff this yuletide. The North-Eastern states of the country is said to be involved in about 60 percent of the nation’s agrarian produce like Tomatoes, Onions, Pepper, Beans and others.
Mrs. Yetunde Alao, who trades in Tomatoes at Mile 12, attributed the rising prices to the lingering fuel scarcity, activities of the Boko Haram in the North coupled with the anxiety associated with the yuletide season.
According to her, the current fuel scarcity makes it difficult for farm produce to be transported to the consumers. Perishable stuffs like Tomatoes, Onions and pepper have to get to the market on time for them to be fresh, attractive and affordable. ”the increasing prices of Foodstuff is not unconnected with the lingering fuel scarcity in the country. Cost of transporting goods generally is high, it also makes the prices of the goods to be high.” she said.
Presently, a kilo of frozen chicken which used to be sold for N900 is now N1, 200. A bag of Rice used to be N9, 500 has risen to between N11, 000 and 13, 000 depending on the quality. A five litre gallon of palm oil which used to be sold for N900 now goes for N1, 300.
In anticipation, consumers are doing early shopping ahead of the season’s rush period which usually raises demand above supply, thereby making prices to soar the more
This year, there is no significant rise in the prices of clothing. But there is a drift in the demand from new to used clothes. IyaYemisi, as she is popularly called, a dealer in fairly used clothes [Okrika] at Agege, said people now prefer Okrika to new clothes because it is cheaper and durable. ”the demand for Okrika is on the rise. People believe that it is better than the new ones.” she said, but put its constraints on importation and government bureaucracy.
As inflation rate continues to fluctuate, the purchasing power of consumers is affected. The Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] has pegged the inflation rate in the first quarter of 2015 at 8.50 percent with a marginal rise from 8.10 and 8.40 percent in January and February 2015 respectively, against 7.9 percent in the close of 2014.

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