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Rising product prices: Traders lament low patronage – Investigation

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By JohnMark Ukoko, Lagos

While the prices of both locally produced and imported goods have continued to rise steadily, traders say consumer patronage has drastically dropped. A foodstuff seller who deals on garri, rice, beans and yams at the popular Sabo Market, Ikorodu, Lagos, Mr. Okechukwu Nelson disclosed that the volume of his daily saleshad reduced by almost half. Nelson said most of his customers now complain of lack of money and high cost of other goods as responsible for the drop in their purchases, adding that his colleagues who sell similar items and other goods equally complain of low sales. 

“It is a fact that the price of every item offered for sale in the market has gone up. Is it foodstuff, fish, meat, liquor or soft drink? “People who sell sachet water, bottle water, gala, meat pie, biscuits etc. are equally complaining of low sales. Buyers are not happy that each time they go shopping they discover that prices have changed.

 “The constant price adjustments has made sales to be low as most of our customers are now doing window shopping or simply complain when we tell them the prices of the goods they want to buy,” he stated.A seller of frozen fish and chicken, Madam Layo Ojo, in an interview disclosed that her sales volume had reduced too. Ojo said that some of her customers who used to buy three kilos of fish or frozen chicken are now buying one or two kilos because our money has lost value while  salary had remained same. 

She added that the amount that was used to buy three kilos of Titus fish in late 2020 can hardly buy two kilos of the same fish as of now, no thanks to the spiral inflation. “A kilo of Titus fish that was sold for N1, 200 late last year is now sold for about N2, 000 a kilo, while the disposable income of most Nigerians has either reduced or remained at the same level. 

“Workers are being shown the doors while many artisans and self-employed Nigerians are also complaining of low sales due to lack of patronage. “Traders are not happy when prices continue to rise on a regular basis. It affects the volume of sales and our customers keep on bargaining or complaining before they are able to buy the little quantity the money on them is able to afford,” she lamented. 

Speaking recently in Lagos at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) forum, the former Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Muda Yusuf, noted that though the research by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that inflation figure in the last two months had reduced, prices of most items had remained very high. He blamed the government’s inability to tackle the insecurity challenges in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s huge debt as partly responsible for the rising prices of most goods sold in the country.Yusuf also blamed the forex scarcity and the depletion of the country’s foreign reserves as being partly responsible for the high prices of imported goods.

He disclosed that the multiple exchange rate and the activities of the country’s parallel market operators were other factors making prices of imported raw materials, machines and other goods to remain very high. “The multiple exchange rates by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are not helpful. The government should liberalize the exchange rates to allow people bring in their foreign currencies and sell at whatever price to those who need them and are able to afford them,” he pleaded.

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