The yuletide season in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) comes with diverse expectations for traders and business persons. Commercial activities in the territory come with different intrigues. Popularly referred to as a civil servant state by many traders, the FCT is usually a ghost of itself during festive periods, especially when it comes with long public holidays.
December is filled with diverse social and commercial activities. Being the last month of the year, it comes with many business activities. To many people staying in the territory, it is a time to shop and prepare for trips outside the city.
However, this year, some of the traders who usually benefitted from the usual end-of-the-year surge in commercial activities, lamented poor patronage. Many of them blamed the situation on the financial downturn in the country.
At this time of the year, popular shopping malls and markets are no-go areas, as they become beehive of activities. Wuse Market was no exception when Aso Chronicle visited during the yuletide.
There were mixed feelings at the market. While some sections of the market were devoid of its usual boom due to poor patronage, people could barely walk to other sections.
Aso Chronicle observed that the fashion designers’ section of the market, known for increased activities, was without the usual crowd.
On the other hand, at the fabrics traders and hairstylists sections, there was large turnout of people.
The chairlady, Wuse Market Hair Plaiters Association, Mrs. Amaka Ogbu, said that despite the poor economic situation in the country, business was in top gear. “Women always beautify themselves,” she said.
Mrs. Ogbu said the market was busy as more women kept coming, even with their children, to make their hair so that they could look beautiful.
“I will say we are not really affected by low patronage. No matter what, women want to look good; and that is what you are seeing here,” she said.
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She said many hairstylists had taken advantage of the large turnout of customers to increase their charges. On her part, a hairstyle that cost N2, 000 before the festive season now goes for N5, 000 and above, while home services come at exorbitant prices.
Interestingly, Mrs. Ogbu said the customers were not complaining since they understood the season. “There is no complaint from any customer because they know it should be like that. The only challenge is the fuel scarcity,” she said.
She said that due to the fuel scarcity earlier experienced, many stylists could not make it to the market early enough while several of their customers patronised beauty shops close to them.
She explained that many of the stylists now come earlier than before. Those that resume at their stall by 10:00a.m. now come as early as 7:30a.m. while some stay at the entrance of the market till the gate is opened at 7:00a.m.
She said the number of her customers had increased, adding that she required more speed and hands to be able to meet up with their demands.
Another stylist, Mrs. Mary Moses, who specialises in fixing various kinds of weave-on (synthetic hair extension), said this year’s business was better when compared with 2014 despite the complaints about the financial situation in the country and delay in salary payment.
She confirmed that there was an upsurge in patronage, but unlike Mrs. Ogbu, she did not increase her charges.
Mrs. Moses said that with the holidays, her children and workers were available to help her in the business.
“What I can say is that the season just started this week. Business picked up late this year, but we still thank God,” she said.
At the stalls, Aso Chronicle observed that several people were making their hair and doing pedicure and manicure at the same time.
While commercial activities were bubbling at the stalls of hairstylists, the reverse is the situation at the fashion designers’ sections.
Some of the fashion designers said they were not enjoying the season because several of their customers did not come for their cloths.
Abdulazeez Ozigi Raji is the chairman, the Nigeria Union of Tailors, Wuse Market Branch. While comparing business activities between last year and 2015, he said last year was quite better, adding that he had a lot of work, which is not the situation now.
“We guess it is because of the economic situation in the country. There is no money in circulation. Workers are not paid, so how do you expect them to patronise us?” Raji asked.
He said that last year, he made over 200 cloths, but this year; he could barely count 150.
Raji said though power supply had improved, high exchange rate is another challenge yet to be tackled. He said the exchange rate had led to an increase in the cost of clothing materials.
Another tailor at the plaza, Isah Lawal, said he had not experienced the low patronage he got this year since his over 16 years in the business.
“This year is very bad, probably due to the change in government. December has not been like this before,” he said.
He said most of his customers lamented the poor economic situation in the country, adding that some of the few customers who brought cloths could not pay up the balance.
Aso Chronicle observed that the fashion designers’ plaza was scanty, even as those present were idle.
On his part, a trader in cloths at the market, Abdulkadir Bello Kadimi, described this festive season as one of his best, saying, “The level of patronage has been good.”
He said people were coming in droves to buy different types of fabric.
He, however, said the fuel scarcity made him increase the prices of some of his fabrics because he paid more on transportation.
At the Dei-Dei livestock market, butchers said they increased the price of beef because they paid more on transportation. One of the butchers, simply identified as Abdul, said he paid N150, 000 on a truck of cattle from the North-East instead of the usual N90, 000.
While butchers said the increase in beef price was caused by situation beyond their control, live chicken sellers at the market increased prices because, according to one of them, “Na our season be this.” Mohammed Ahmed said that because of the festive period, residents did not expect to buy at the normal price.
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