Economic downturn takes shine off Lagos fair

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By Merit Ibe                     [email protected] Five  days into the 36th edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI),  exhibitors have decried the low patronage of their wares attributing it to current economic downturn.The traders also criticised increase in space fee, which they said  may have hindered most exhibitors from participating in this year’s edition of the fair. A visit to the fair yesterday at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), showed very low turnout of customers. However, the low activities with its attendant low sales was attributed to the low purchasing power due to the situation of the economy. Chiarman, SMEs Group of the LCCI, Daniel Dickson- Okezie, noted that  businesses, patronage and activities generally have been dull at the ongoing fair. Unlike in the past years when most vacant spaces were occupied by exhibitors from other states of the country, many exhibitors outside Lagos were not present.The case now is different and this will be attributed to the state of the economy and the security situation, which  is one of the biggest challenges facing the country, Dickson -Okezie said. “Travellers from up north who used to have representation at the fair in the past are currently not on ground today. “Several businesses in the real sector that used to come to the fair are not here because most of them have relocated their businesses elsewhere due to the harsh environment.”He said until the country starts getting back where it used to be, things will remain the same.An exhibitor from Ghana simply identified as Theresa, selling batik and adire materials, said the 2022 fair was her third time at the Lagos Fair to promote her goods in Nigeria, but lamented that patronage was poor.She said: “This is the third time that I have been coming here. This year’s sales is poor, people are not coming, there is no patronage, only a few come and go, they only seek to know the prices of products, test and go away, they don’t buy. But some years ago at Enugu fair  and by this time last year I had recorded huge sales. I don’t know what could be responsible for this because I am not a Nigerian, my products are from Ghana.”A coordinator at one of the exhibition stands who does not want his name in print and who had been coming to the fair  to market his company’s goods since 2012 rated sales at the ongoing trade fair low. “This year’s sale is too low compared with previous years. The people’s purchasing power is very low. I think the economy is telling on people’s pockets. Government needs to improve the economy so that ordinary Nigerians can afford basic things.”An exhibitors simply identified as Cosmos, also noted that the fair has lost its flavour. “Everywhere is just quiet. The government should do its best to revive this economy, the dollar rate is high  forcing the pice of products to go high too.” Another exhibitor simply identified as Emmanuel who deals with electronics said, “This is my first time of coming to the fair. There is no sales, nothing is happening. Maybe it is because of the hardship in the country, as we all know that the economy is bad.”One exhibitor noted that organisers’s advert to create awareness was poor, as it also affected the number of people. A foreign exhibitor from Ghana, Rhoda  Ashanti, a first timer, who displayed branded healthy snacks, said the experience was good but not sure if she would return next year. She complained about sales as many Nigerians were not willing to buy as they said prices were on the high side. 



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