For an economy like Nigeriaâ€™s where workers hustle fromÂ MondayÂ toÂ FridayÂ and return home late at night with little or no time for shopping and leisure, it will not be a bad idea to have a 24-hour retail store during weekends, or at least extended shopping hours on weekends to balance shopping experience for all categories of shoppers.
This is however, a hard-to-come-by reality in Nigeria. Save for a few unpopular brands, the majority of the retail stores and shopping malls in Nigeria, most especially theÂ Â popular ones like Justrite, Shoprite and SPAR, close betweenÂ 5 and 10 p.mÂ on weekdays while on weekends close as early asÂ 7p.mÂ and in rare cases,9p.mÂ depending on the location.
This operational model does not seem to favour the reality in the country where an average consumer has more time for shopping at weekends.
Findings from Gallup Daily tracking data on a research conducted between January 2 and October 21, 2009 show that weekend spendings from Fridays through Sundays on an average daily basis far exceeded weekday spendings.Â Weekday demands leave little time for shopping or entertainment outside the home.
In the United States of America, for instance, most retail giants like Walmart, Kroger and HEB operate round the clock while smaller outlets which do not operate the 24-hour model pay special attention to customersâ€™ peak shopping days which usually are Fridays and Saturdays.
All work and no play, they say, make a Jack a dull boy. Usually, beyond the normal buying, retail shopping centres especially malls serve as relief and entertainment centres for many. Other than going in to buy groceries, clothes, shoes, reading materials etc. which are all available on the spot, they are equally a great meeting place for friends, lovers and families.
Nigerians have time for this recreation and outing only on weekends, the more reason retail centres should make their shopping hours during this period flexible and friendly. The fact that major stores in Nigeria have shorter operating hours at weekends has left many customers disappointed and deprived of personal desires.
This was the situation recently at Just Rite in Abule Egba area of Lagos where shoppers who got to the centre at five minutes pastÂ 7p.mÂ were left to their fate oneÂ Sunday. The gate was already locked byÂ 7p.mwhere ignorant and expectant shoppers who got to the store a minute pastÂ 7p.mÂ were denied entry.
Shoppers drove and walked away in anger while the desperate ones made move to bribe the security guard to either grant them access or assist them to buy some stuff, which the guard declined. This eventually ended in a commotion as more and more shoppers strolled to the venue insisting on entering the store. When asked why consumers were denied access to the store,Â the security guard who would not want his name in print said the management was very strict with operating hours, addingÂ that consumers were always left helpless almost every weekend.
â€œOnce it isÂ Sunday, we close byÂ 7p.mÂ and nothing can change it. The staff also need to rest, we canâ€™t overwork ourselves,â€ he said.
Reacting, President of Bervidson Retail Group, Mr Joseph Ebata, who agreed that shopping was usually heavy during weekends and light on weekdays most especially Mondays, stated that retail players should ordinarilyÂ be prepared for weekendÂ traffic and live up to expectations.
â€œWorkers should be encouraged to act in full capacity this period. However, we must equally not forget that our environment is constrained by security challenge which is why most operators choose to close at their convenient time,â€ he said.
Away from consumersâ€™ benefit, a retail expert, Eudora Kelley said that extending shopping hours at peak periods would help boost the competitive edge of a brand and stimulate economic growth.
â€œThis was one of the strategies that lifted the economy of United Arab Emirates – extending shopping hours in its mega malls and providing a wide array of leisure activities, fashion, jewellery, health, beauty and electronics, thus making Dubai a renowned terrorist haven. Investors should consider shift work for their employees while legislators should establish a legal framework to enable shops to open at night,â€ she said.