Recession shrinks Yuletide gifts, hampers as prices skyrocket
While the Yuletide season is celebrated globally as a period not just to share goodwill and good tidings, but to express appreciation through showers of gifts for friendship and support received throughout the year among individuals, corporate entities and government, the irony seems to be the case in Nigeria last year.
Indeed, such goodwill showers have been drastically affected by current economic recession in Nigeria, to the extent that most individuals and corporate organisations simply preferred to opt out this time around.
The situation was worse among government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), who tried to hide under managing costs to save for more pressing economic needs.
The few individuals and organisations, which indulged in the yearly ritual of sending hampers, did so prudently, compared with the lavish gifts in the past.
Already, some Lagosians while speaking with The Guardian lamented that they did not receive any hamper this year and are not sure of giving out either, therefore affirming the state of the economy.
Indeed, The Guardian market survey revealed significant and dramatic changes in the packaging of these gifts by consultants and various outlets.
Specifically, the sizes and types of gifts and hampers this season were a perfect reflection of how deep recession had eaten into Nigeria’s economy after three consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product, GDP growth.
Beside the contents shrinking dramatically, the prices of the hampers more than doubled compared to previous years, which the consultants and dealers attributed to the high exchange and inflation rates.
Dealers from popular markets across Lagos, told The Guardian that the high cost of items made prices of hampers to rise, even as they also complained of low patronage.
A popular dealer in Mushin (Ojuwoye) market, Olawunmi Olabanji, said dealers experienced low patronage compared to previous years because of the untold hardship in the economy.
According to her, hampers that sold for N5,000 with the same content last year now sells for N15,000, adding that although the N5,000 worth packages are still available, “but they are not rich in content and quality of products.”
Olabanji lamented that unlike in 2015, when she sold a daily average of between 15 and 20 hampers, and a total of about 300 during the season; she barely sold up to 50 this time around.
“Even the corporate organisations that come to order as much as 50 at once sparingly showed up and when they did, they only took four or six hampers,” she added.
Mrs Angela Onwogu told The Guardian that “sales have dropped so much as the stores are full of goods, and customers are not forth coming, I have not seen most of my customers, only few came. The few that came even bought less than what they usually buy,” she said.
However, a senior civil servant who doesn’t want her name mentioned in the print said that the dwindling economy has affected the numbers of hampers that she often receive during the yuletide period.
“By now, enough hampers would have been dropped in my office but none is here. People are struggling to cope with the economic condition of this country. Prices of almost everything has increased 100% and gifting, at this period will not be their priority.
In an interaction with Tina Philips, an official of a corporate firm in Lagos, who came to order for her company, she said: “My company bought 20 hampers last year at a cost of N5,000 each with high quality content, but all I am buying now is six at triple the cost with less content and quality.
“The quality of hampers this year cannot be compared to that of last year, it has dropped for the same value of money as last year,” she noted.
Tina affirmed that the recession has really affected prices of items so bad that a hamper she got for N3,500 in 2015, now sold for N10,000.
I have to go back to the office twice to collect additional money because I budgeted N8,000 for each, Tina stressed.
Meanwhile, The Guardian gathered that prices of hampers in some supermarket around the Oshodi, Ikeja, Isolo and Yaba axis ranged from N31,000, N20,000 to N15,000, and N12,500 as seen displayed.
In one of the supermarkets, an attendant said, few hampers were on display because, most people prefer to choose items lesser than already packed ones to meet their budget.
The story wasn’t different at the Cane market in Maryland, Lagos where hundreds of hamper baskets were sighted with no customers around.
The Vice Chairman of the Progressive Association of Cane Sellers, Courage Daniel told our correspondent that because of the recession, more customers are opting for plastic hamper baskets to cane to minimise cost.
This phenomenon, he attributed to the high cost of baskets owing to increased cost of materials.