Christmas In The Air

15 Dec 2012

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Christmas Mean Different Things To Different People. For Some Its Time To Make Brsk Business, To Others It’s A Period To Expect Gifts Of Different Types From People As Well As Time To Share. As A Result Kasie Abone Went To Town To Feel The Pulse Of The Festive Season

Christmas is the most celebrated festive and shopping season in the global annual calendar. It is celebration galore every year at this time globally. Christmas is the season Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. You could feel the ‘feel good’ feeling everywhere. It is a time when Lagos really comes alive, when offices, homes and even streets are magically transformed into beautiful castles and stately homes almost unrecognisable, all geared up to help make Christmas merry.

From Christmas songs that blare from public speakers even from as early as November, to the Christmas trees and other decorations and hampers that dot street shops, everywhere Christmas is felt in the air. For churches, it is a period of fervent prayers when all the forces of darkness should be bound and sent into the abyss so that those who would travel home will do so without any form of fear for mishap. It is also a period for caroling. It is believed in some quarters that the joy and beauty of Christmas is more in the days/events leading to Christmas day when people go on shopping spree and engage in general preparation for the D Day.

This period is also a season of sharing, caring and generally showing love and support to one another. This explains why there is a frenzy of shopping for gifts items, clothing materials, foods and beverages, drinks and lots more. Christmas cards, all sorts of gifts, mails, emails, text messages and phone calls will be exchanged.

But with the lull in the economy this year coupled with the cashless banking operation introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, it seems there is purse strings as well as belt-tightening this year as things seem to be a little bit different for many.

Roaring trade
Shops do a roaring trade at this time as shoppers take to the streets in their droves in the hunt for last-minute purchases. Businesses offer customers discounts and mouth-watering gift packages at promo. Thousands troop to stores and markets shopping for family and friends. Clothes, shoes and accessories, gift items, Christmas paraphernalia are at the top of shopping lists this season.

However, while expectations are high that this season would record a high volume of sales, businessmen and women are complaining that it is not yet boom time. According to them, sales have been down at this season compared to similar period last year. THISDAY went round some shops, select markets to feel the pulse and mood of the market.

Mountain of hamper baskets
One of the key elements of Christmas is sharing gifts to loved ones. Most of these gift items are packaged in hamper baskets.  A visit to the popular Cane Market located at the popular Maryland under bridge, Ikeja, Lagos where these hampers baskets are made, our correspondent was confronted with a mountain of hamper baskets ready for sale, but with few serious buyers on sight. According to Mrs. Roseline Onwordi, owner of Roseline Cane Enterpises, this season has been the worst in her over 30 years history of selling hamper baskets. Onwordi who described herself as the chair person of the hamper basket sellers said they have never seen it so bad.
“See heeps of our baskets now. If it were last year we would have finished this stock and ordered for more. These ones you see here are old stock. The new ones have not even arrived yet we have only two weeks to Christmas. When are we going to sell them?” she queried rhetorically.

Her position was collaborated by Mrs. Juliet Omoworare who said she has been in the business of making hamper baskets for over 35 years. “I was born in this business; same as my two elder sisters. Our father started it and we in inherited it from him.” She told THISDAY that they make the baskets and sell to individual buyers and wholesalers,  including those from Apongbon, Lagos. She said the stock they made since early this year has not been disposed of but that does not deter them as they are still producing more baskets optimistic that the situation would improve and there could be last minute surge in days ahead.

Slow busness at fashion shops
Fashion shops along Allen/Okpebi axis recorded slightly bemused looking shoppers attempting to pick the perfect outfit.  At Balogun and Idumota markets, hawkers have taken over the streets with their products heavily discounted. The heavy discounts are said to be given by stores who want to clear their shelves of old stock to create room for new ones. ‘It’s definitely been a shopper’s market.”
At Apongbon in Lagos, slightly busy scenes were also noticed atmthe shops. Sales are picking up,  but at a slower pace than what was experienced about this time last year, THISDAY investigation can reveal.

Creativity does it
At Adam & Eve, a household and gift shop, the CEO of the Ikeja GRA shop, Mrs. Modupe Ogunlesi told THISDAY that though business has been slow it takes creativity to navigate the difficult times. “Sales have been a bit more draggy this year. Normally every year we make a lot of noise but this year I don’t know whether it is because of the construction work going on or the economic down turn. But we have sold more storage hampers this year than in the past years.”

According to her, when the economy is poor the people who have some money to spend want to spend it well. The secret? Creativity. She showcased to our correspondent her stock of Christmas trees and decorations, a type that can only be seen and appreciated by only those who have taste and class. “Such you can’t find elsewhere.” No wonder her clients keeping coming even from as far as Delta State.

Corporate sales promos
Corporate bodies are wowing their clients/customers with sales promotion that promise them exciting prizes for the season. From the banks, telecom companies, FMCGs manufacturers are not left out in the offer of mouth-watering and exciting prizes for their numerous customers across the country this Christmas season.

GTBank, one of Nigeria financial giants has evolved an innovative manner in its offerings to customers at Christmas. The bank, in partnership with Selfridges, UK is projecting authentic African fashion designs to the global community through a collaboration tagged “Guaranty Trust Bank presents Ndani.”

The designs on display at the shop express the deep creativity, ingenuity and originality of African designers attributes, which the designers share with thethe bank brand.

The exhibition has already attracted several visits by fashionistas from all over the world and is set to be a high point at the Selfridges store throughout this December and January, 2013. Participating designers who are from Nigeria Agu, House of Silk, DOT Handbags, Odio Mimonet, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Jewel by Lisa, Eki Orleans, Ituen Basi and Tiffany Amber. These designers are showcasing their Christmas/Cruise collection exclusively at the Nigerian world pop-up store during the project.

THOUGH business can be said to be slow, there is a group of Lagosians who must celebrate Christmas by whatever means possible. They are the street urchins popularly called the alayes or area boys. Year after year these band of young men constitute themselves into a formidable group to fleece Lagosians of money, which they use to organise street parties to mark the Christmas. They block streets with sticks, table or chairs to disrupt free flow of traffic. Each motorist is expected to pay toll exploited either by raw force or coercion. This money collated over a period of time is accumulated and used to hire life band to entertain on the D day, buy drinks, Indian hemp and other things.

No matter what the situation is one thing is clear; it is another Christmas and we must make it merry. If we follow the advice of Modupe Ogunlesi“it is a new beginning. Whether you have achieved your aim in the year or not, find something that would make you happy on that day and then start again in the New Year. You don’t have any reason not to have a merry Christmas.”

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