Low Sales, Low Traffic Greet Lagos Trade Fair

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By Kasie Abone

The current economic recession in Nigeria has really impacted every facet of the nation – business, religion, education, political, among others. Families and businesses are deploying every strategy imaginable to adjust to current economic realities.

The impact of the economic recession can be felt and seen at the ongoing Lagos International Trade Fair holding at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos. Our correspondent who visited the fair on Wednesday November 9, 2016 observed that the exhibition has lost its colour. Human and material traffic was almost absent; a number of stands were vacant, as exhibitors who braved the odds to attend had few customers and prospects to attend to.

Speaking to our correspondent, an exhibitor, Mr. Vincent Ugochukwu, Marketing Manager of Sharp Kitchen Mates lamented low sales occasioned by economic recession in Nigeria. Comparing last year’s fair to the ongoing one, he described it as “the worst trade fair” in the annals of such fairs in Lagos. “Ever since the beginning of the trade fair we have recorded low sales. Last year, people came into our stall, haggle and buy, but this time people come in, bargain and walk away. They complain of high prices because of the high exchange rate. We have four more days to go but we have not even recovered a quarter of what we invested in this fair.” Pointing at the kitchen wares displayed on the shelves, he complained that he has not replenished his stock since the goods were displayed, adding “we restocked every evening during the previous fairs.”

A franchisee of Thermo cool electronics and Managing Director, Runs & Trails, Mrs. Folasade Ogunjobi described the fair as scanty. She said many intended exhibitors could not participate this year because they could not afford to come. “This is the first exhibition that we can’t see foreigners. Somebody told me that Ghanaian exhibitors said they couldn’t come because by the time they exchange their proceeds to Dollars it would not be worth their efforts.”

She also lamented low sales, adding that few customers who come into her stand left without purchasing a thing because of exorbitant prices. Despite the obvious challenges, she said she had to be at the exhibition because some of her customers expect her yearly.

For MultiChoice Commercial Sales Supervisor, Mr. Busuyi Ogunduyile, things have not been easy like in the previous years when more money was in circulation in the economy. Households are now questioning their purchase decisions. Despite that he said his company was not only at the fair to sell but also to expose her brands to prospective customers. “As market leaders we have to constantly be on the face of our customers. Even with the few people coming around they are exposed to what DStv and GOtv are all about.” Ogunduyile expressed optimism that next year’s fair will be better as the economy is expected to stabilise.

Though the absence of exhibitors from other countries, especially Africa’s was obvious, but China’s stand was imposing. At the China stand, Project Assistant for Brightway International Exhibition Corporation Limited, organisers of Chinese exhibitors, Mr. Mao Mingda expressed satisfaction with this year’s fair.

He noted that despite the fact that there were fewer customers coming into China Pavillion, exhibitors recorded a number of big business prospects. He also gave kudos to improved infrastructures, including better air conditioning, leak proof Pavillion, among others.

A visitor to the fair who identified herself as Mrs. Bukkey said she wanted to buy some household items and food items but couldn’t because of the high prices.

“The items are out of reach my dear. You journalists should help us talk to (President) Buhari. Nigerians are dying.”

Responding on behalf of Lagos Chamber of Commerce, the IT Manager, Mr. Taofeeq Mahmud, who insisted he was not the right person to speak on the issue as the information officers were out on a conference, explained that it was different strokes for different people. While some companies are recording high sales, others may not, but that it depended on what the company in question was exhibiting.

He noted that those who deal on consumables and electronics cum GSM products were doing swift business. He added that most customers may also be waiting for the last days to visit the fair when they expect to have a deal.