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Weekly Price Check: Prices of perishable goods soar after dollar fall

Naira, Dollar

– Business owners and traders at some of the major markets in Lagos state continues to decry poor sales and increment in the price of some basic food items

– Despite dollar fall, prices of perishable foods items soar while others returns to normalcy

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– Findings by at Mile- 12 market, Lagos reveals an increase in the price of basic food items like rice, crayfish, potato, garri, tomatoes, pepper and onion

– Traders lament high cost of goods and poor sales

The return of President Muhammadu Buhari to the country after a 51-day absence seems not to have yielded any positive result on the prices of goods in the market, has confirmed.

Business owners and traders at some of the major markets in Lagos state also continued to decry poor sales and increment in the price of some basic food items, despite fall of the dollar against the Nigerian currency.

Findings by at Mile-12 market, Lagos reveal an increase in the price of basic food items like rice, crayfish, potato, garri, tomatoes, pepper and onion.

Investigation shows that the poor sales came as part of the ripple effects of the economic recession plaguing the economy.

The traders lamented the impact of the poor sales and wished that things would improve once the economy returns to normalcy.

Mrs Ohaekim, who spoke with our correspondent explained that there is no money in circulation and it affects the purchasing pattern of our buyers. She maintained that it was far worse than what they had experienced in recent years.

“Sales and rate of turnover have been very poor. Many customers do not have money, while traders have been turned into bench warmers in the market. Sales have never been this terrible, quite unlike what we experienced in previous years,” she said.

When asked further, she lamented the increase in the cost of fish, saying it is one of the reasons customers do not patronize her any longer.

She added: “Before now, fish that sold for N15,000 now goes for between N24,000 and N26,000, even directly from the market. And the ones we sold at the rate of N500 or N700 now sells between N1,000 and 1,200 and our customers are complaining bitterly.”

When visited the stall of Alfa Qasim, a butcher at the market, he lamented on the present state of the economy, calling on the government to quickly intervene because the prices of goods are not only influenced by the rise and fall of dollar but by the worsening economic condition in Nigeria.

“The people are really suffering, there is money and those who have, are spending wisely while those who are managing before now, are not finding it funny as things are costly. Despite the dollar fall, the goat we used to buy for N8,000 naira now sells for N15,000 and when we begin to sell in small quantity, people will not patronize us because of the high cost. we just open our stalls in the morning hoping for a better sales but the reverse is the case, as we do not make huge turnover,” he said.

A meat seller simply identified as Alhaji, complained bitterly about the drop in sales due to the foreign exchange before and now.

According to him: “Before, the profit accrued from sales was between N30,000 to N40,000 daily; but these days, I would have to stay here till late in the evening before I would be able to sell meat worth N10,000, after purchasing cow from N130,000.

“Right now, we sell but do not record huge sales as some of us who buy in large quantity sometimes end up in debts. Because some customers who patronize us buy in credit, and at the end of the day, some run away without paying back. This is not easy for us and the customers as well.”

Chukwudubem, a boutique owner at the market, attributed high price of goods and low sales to increase in the exchange rate of dollar to the naira before now. He however maintained that once the exchange rate is regulated, the price of goods will be normalised.

“Foreign exchange affected the prices of goods in the market. some doubled while others tripled. More so, it is not readily available as most of us buy from the black market. Based on commodities difference which will definitely reflect in the prices of the items.”

Eze, a foodstuff seller, said traders only watch people go around pricing goods without buying them.

He ascribed the bad situation to the poor state of the economy and instability in the Foreign exchange market.

“We only see people walk around the market pricing goods but they do not buy anything. and those who buy, buy at a reduced quantity. people are not seeking for quality anymore, but they are seeking for quantity. what will satisfy their present demand. It is painful. There is no money in circulation because workers are being owed backlog of salaries, and some companies are laying off workers.

“Recently, the drop in dollar was only heard of, as it has not been felt in the market. Because, the goods that are cheaper before now, have increased by 30%. While others are fluctuating. A bag of rice (Aroso) that cost N17,500 before, now goes from N18,500. A bag of (Aroso) rice that cost N21,000 remains the same, but this depends on the market where it is purchased. While garri have soared high. A bag of garri (yellow) that goes for N11,000 now cost N13,000 and a bag of garri (White) that goes for N11,500 before, now cost N15,000. Also, beans is not left out as a bag of Oloyin beans that cost N27,000 before, now cost N34,000, same goes for others.

“The instability in Naira and the foreign currency is really affecting the prices of goods in the market, as some that are not imported into the country, are more expensive. This is affecting sales and no one understands the state of the economy now,” the man stated quite emotionally.

He added that unlike in the past when he made between N25,000 to N40,000 daily, he now struggles to sell foodstuff worth N15,000 daily.

Mr Andrew, an electronics dealer in the market, also said that prices of electronics and electrical gadgets were high and may even go higher despite dollar fall.

“This is not the change we voted for. Nobody understands the present administration’s economic policy. People are managing to spend, so they are not buying things as usual. Everything is just difficult for people. I just hope things get better.

“For electronics, prices go higher daily. As I speak to you, dollar is around four hundred naira and above. People no longer patronize me like before, I struggle to sell my goods. Before the recession and devaluation of Naira, I used to realize about N10,000 to N20,000 daily but now it is not even up to N15,000. This is pathetic,” he lamented.

At the market, it was learnt that importers and retailers of fashion wares and materials have increased the prices of their products as a result of the exchange rate. The prices witnessed over 40 percent rise as a result of this, resulting in low sales.

According to findings, some trader are of the opinion that there is absolutely no change in price while others are optimistic of an improved sales as Naira appreciates further.

A bag trader who pleaded anonymity, opined that the impact of the Naira appreciation will be felt in a short while, adding that some traders would sell off their goods according to the amount of purchase before the dollar fall.

“There is no way traders can feel the effect of the increase in value of the naira. It will take some months before we begin to feel the impact, as some traders, presently stock in their shops with goods purchased at an increased price. and are trying to sell it off before the dollar fall takes effect, hence they will be incur debt. They are not trying to make a profit, but just trying to get my money back because when they bought goods, it was very expensive.”

In a related development, the prices of perishable items like, tomatoes, pepper, onion to mention but a few, have increased by 20%. Traders credit this to the economy situation in the country, amidst dollar fall.

Titi, explained the recent increment in the price of perishable item.

She said: “Before the rise and fall of dollar, you cannot get a fixed price of perishable items. because, it is often influenced by market forces, transportation fare, traders choice and market location. when you visit some market in the state, goods that are affordable in this market, the price would have been doubled in other markets. this is because of the cost of transporting the goods from the main market to other distant market.

“Surprisingly, a basket of tomatoes that cost between N5,000- N7,000, can be purchased from N8,500 upwards. This depends on the freshness of the tomatoes, the size of the basket and the size of the tomato. sometimes, when a basket of fresh tomatoes is mixed with rotten ones, they are cheaper but when it contains only fresh and good tomatoes, they are expensive.

“Also, the price of pepper (Rodo) soared, just few days after dollar fall. Traders became confused as customers lament. Before, a basket of pepper (Rodo) cost N7,000 but now, it cost N14,000 and still rising depending on the market situation on the day of purchase. While the price of onion fluctuates and Pepper (Tatase) remains normal.”

In the same market, there has been a reduction in the price of oil as observed by our correspondent. Checks by shows the affordability and availability of oil.

A trader identified as Mama Ada, informed that the price was influenced by dollar fall and the choice of some traders.

“It is usually traders, economy and exchange rate that determines the price of some goods in the market. The fall in dollar has influenced the price of so many goods in the market.

“Before now, 25-litre of groundnut-oil cost N16,000 and above, but now, it has been reduced to N14,000 and N16,000. This depends on the brand and quality. The one that gladdens customers heart is the reduction in Palm-oil. It was sold before from N23,000 upwards but can be purchased between N20,000-N15,000. This is the actual market price of a good palm-oil. and to also inform you, the bad palm-oil can be purchased at a reduced price from N14,000,” she informed.

Similarly, the price of food items like Egusi, ogbono and stock fish have been relatively low. Traders informed our correspondent that the reduction is as a result of the dollar fall.

“A bag of Egusi (handpeel) that cost N55,000 few weeks ago, can be purchased at N47,000. a bag of Egusi (machine) that cost between N38,000- N42,000 now goes for N35,000. Also, a bag of ogbono that cost N115,000 have been reduced to N95,000. Crayfish also witnessed a little increment, it can be purchased from N28,000 upwards,” Chidinma, a trader in the market, told our correspondent.

At the section of used clothes, popularly called ‘Okrika’, the situation was the same. The traders who are mainly easterners, were seen sitting idly in their shops while those who own makeshift shops abandoned their wares due to poor sales.

Most of them declined speaking with our correspondent, responding angrily that sales are poor. When probed about the cause of the poor sales, James, a second hand clothe dealer , revealed that sales have nosedived due to the economic downturn and scarcity of resources, despite a reduction in the price of their wares.

“We have been sitting like this since morning, no sales. Our customers are students, private and public office workers, full housewives, but most of them can no longer feed themselves and meet basic needs. When they come around, they complain of no money. So they rarely patronize us these days. What we did was to reduce the price of our goods and thereby make it available for them anytime they make special demand. One would not think about clothing and fashion when you are not well fed.”

Since economic recession hit the country, more and more businesses have suffered a huge setback. Prices have soared while traders in various markets across the state continue to hope things would improve but nothing has changed yet, even as the naira has strengthened against the dollar.

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