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‘Second-hand’ clothing market thrives amid textile policy

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Used clothes on display PHOTO: www.wealthresult.com<br />

Efforts by the government to discourage the use of second-hand clothing and imported textiles believed to be impeding the growth of the textile and local garment production in the country may be running low on steam, as the business continues to thrive.

The Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) had earlier in the year imposed restriction on foreign exchange (forex) access to importers of textiles and other clothing materials into the country.

Citing the consequences of using a “one-size fits all” solution to address trade issues, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) had stated that the N5 trillion textiles industry needs a combination of trade and monetary policies to function efficiently.

According to the chamber, the starting point is to strengthen the capacity of domestic industries, enhance their competitiveness, considering that the industry had been a beneficiary of several fiscal incentives and protectionist measures over the years, yet remained in stagnation.

For many Nigerians in the low-income bracket and those in the increasingly shrinking middle-class that can no longer afford new clothing, used clothing serves as an alternative.

A visit by The Guardian to the popular Aswani market in Lagos showed that many of such clothing and textile materials continue to thrive.

According to merchants who spoke with The Guardian, the market boasts of the cheapest and best prices for mostly second-hand clothing, shoes, bags and other household items.

While new items are not difficult to find for those who are more interested in purchasing such items, they come at slightly higher prices. For instance, a new shirt is sold for N300 per piece, while a fairly used one goes for between N100-150.

Though heavy human presence characterized the market, an interaction with traders on a Wednesday morning, showed that sales have not been encouraging in recent times.

Cletus has been selling dresses and jackets at the Aswani market for over five years. He has an aversion for the market on Tuesdays due to what he termed “the suffocating influx of people” and “the exorbitant charges” paid to market officials.

He said: “I have been here for over five years now but recently, there has been a steady decline in sales, especially in the last two years.”

“Yes”, he continued, “people still come to the market in large numbers, but it takes two months to finish selling a bale of clothes worth N70,000 unlike before. And as for the charges, you pay only when the market is moving, otherwise, you will be running at a loss, and that scares people away.”

Another trader, Mr. Agadagbachiliezi, said he has been selling ladies jeans for two years now and pointing at empty stalls, he said: “The owners of the stalls you see over there are the ones that come on Tuesdays because it’s a weekly market. The rest of us only make use of the stalls on the remaining days of the week when the owners have no need for them and we pay an agreed sum of money to them. We’re ‘attachees.’”

Patience Evboifo is a marketer with NPF Microfinance Bank. She comes to the market every day because she has customers who need to make deposits.

“I come here almost every day because I have to meet my customers and get their deposits, but if I see things I like, I don’t hesitate to buy.”

A friend of hers, Rachael Omenai, enjoined: “I don’t think there is another place in this Lagos that clothes are cheaper. First grade used wears at affordable prices. This place beats boutiques hands down.”

Surely, the fight for the protection of local textile industries is yet to be won and it is made worse by the rising economic challenges, which force people to go for the cheaper ones, which are mostly imported and used ones. These remain issues that well-thought-out-policy and effective implementations will tackle.


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