Rebecca Ejifoma who visited the ever-busy Balogun Market, Lagos, reports that people were making last minute shopping for Christmas despite the economic downturn in the country
Once again, Christmas became like a sweet lasting fragrance you never want to get finished. Right amid the much proclaimed recession, a stampede number of Nigerians are tearing the famous Balogun Market into many bits for the Christmas shopping.

While many panicked that Christmas may struggle at this time when the economy is cracking increasingly, from afar, the aroma of the glorious season remains inviting. The cocktail of red, green and gold ribbons creatively dangling across storey buildings and poles on the streets complement the blend of carols songs hitting the streets as you walk along.

But really, the entire tide leading to Zenith Bank was blocked. Buyers and sellers took over the streets. Everyone was abuzz with these three things: several were buying, many were sellers and a host of others were simply window shopping and smiling at the beautiful arrivals for the blithesome celebration.

Shoes, clothings of all kinds (both finished and raw) and jewellry were the order of the day. There was buying of Christmas trees and fairy lights, too. There was no dull moment in the market as activities thrived even more, so it seemed.

Hence, I curiously asked a seller, Ayodele Matthew, while I picked some items to buy too. “Sales are still booming as always, even increasing now. We are having more sales now. You can see it for yourself. I’m not suprised at all; it has always been this way – enormous,”

According to him, he doesn’t think the recession has affected sales drastically. While in his business of all ladies’ jewellery, he enthused that people are still shopping not minding the recession but negotiate well. “During the El-kadir, we don’t make sales close to this at all. You can see things for yourself; there is no dulling moment. So, buy your own now,” he said with a smile while trying to beat the noise buzzing the ears of the market.

But then, he noted that as sellers, they unanimously noticed something, “Negotiation (pricing so much). The only thing we have noticed and experiencing now is negotiation. Customers come here and want to bargain goods at very low prices. But that has not stopped the large amount of sales we make.”

Now, amid the heavy traffic of buyers and passers-by into the market, there is Ifeanyi Ejimchukwu, who sells ladies shoes of all make and first-class grades, reels the acrid joy in the new prices of things.

“People are buying but not like before. Things are so high now prices are times two of what we were buying before. Like some shoes we sell at rate of 2,800 are now 5,500. In whole sale, ladies heels sold at N5,000 before but they are now between N6,500 and N7,000 now.”
According to him, it is not only women’s foot wears, the prices of both men and children are affected. “Everything, in fact, is effected.”

Giving the reasons, Ifeanyi explained that “dollar is high; it is still 487 naira. With this harsh development, we, the sellers, are complaining bitterly. It is not funny at all.” He added “At least by now, I should have finished buying things for myself and family, too, but as it is now to spend money is quite hard. I’m not thinking of travelling this year to the East.”

He continued: “People are complaining badly. Even to feed in Nigeria is hard. I hope our so-called government will listen to our cry. My own is even better there are some families that are in bad shapes now.”