Soaring Food, Goods Prices Ahead of Festive Season

Prices of food items has continued to increase in Lagos markets as the year festive season approaches.
Few weeks to Christmas and New Year celebration, wholesale and retail traders in Lagos are beginning to stock up essential food items and goods in readiness for the celebrations. However, prices of various commodities in the market have risen as a result of many factors, including the lingering fuel scarcity being experienced nationwide, seasonal changes in the availability of most farm produce and high exchange rates have contributed to the rising cost of food items.
The naira has been falling from the beginning of the year due to the slump in oil prices in the international market. The naira which has fallen against the United States dollar from N190 in the beginning of the year to 248 as at December 7, 2015.
A survey revealed that price of tomatoes, pepper and chilli pepper has soared by over 40 per cent in most markets in Lagos. It showed that a big basket of tomatoes which was sold for N7, 000 at Mile 12 and Oyingbo market now sell for N12, 000. Also a medium sized basket of fresh pepper now sells for N10, 000 from N4, 000 in the beginning of the year, while basket of chili pepper goes for N13, 000 from N8, 000. Also, a bag of onion goes for N25, 000 from N15, 000 sold in January. 
Meanwhile, in Ile-Epo market, the price of a basket of tomatoes goes for N13,000, a bag of pepper and chili pepper sells at N15,000 each.
The same things also goes to rice, a bag of rice is now selling at N10,000 depending on the type of rice, while beans has gone up as high as N22, 000, while a tuba of yams goes as high as N500 per one. Meanwhile, it was gathered that the prices of garri had remained stable for over three months, while the cost of a drum of local vegetable oil had recorded a five per cent increase from N53,000 to N55,500 between November and December.
Also, the prices of rice in the three markets under survey, showed that rice, which is always in high demand during festive seasons, is selling for between N9, 000 to N10, 000 per 50kg bag depending on the type of rice, and the price have been stable for the past three months. A foodstuff trader at the Mile 12 Market, Mr. Ojo Oluroye, said the price of rice has been stable since October. 
He noted that if there is increase now, it will be the cost of transporting the product to the market which could not be transferred to customers because it was minimal and the demand for the produce was not as high as expected.
“Patronage is low now; and we cannot transfer the high cost of transportation to customers because it is not much,” he said.
Other rice traders, also complained of low patronage, although they confessed that they were increasing stock in readiness for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP at Mile 12 market, a pepper seller, Mr. Abdulahi Mohammed, said whenever the supply of products from the northern part of the country became inadequate, the prices would rise, saying “For tomatoes and red pepper, the traders complained that the prices were unpredictable as they fluctuate all the time.”
According to him, presently, a basket of good quality tomatoes cost between N10,000 and N12,000, while the price of red pepper ranged from N6,000 to N7,000.
He also said that due to fuel scarcity in the country, this has led to increase in the price of the products, adding whenever the supply of products from the northern part of the country became inadequate, the prices would rise.
Also, prices of fabrics and children clothes have risen compared to what it used in the beginning of the year. Samson Adeleye, a dealer in lace fabric at Agege Motor road in Lagos, said the prices of fabrics differs in its quality and prices have gone up not because of end year or Christmas hike in price but due to economic factors affecting price.
According to him, the exchange rate is too high and we hope Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) can do something about this, the interest rate is high and high duty rates on importation. All these affect the cost of goods.
The managing director of Moradel Children Outfit, Ikorodu, Mrs. Morayo Ajayi said, the prices of children’s clothes, attributing the increase in prices to high demand.
She said clothes for children under the age of four, which sold for N2, 000 about two weeks ago, now cost N2, 500.
According to her, customers often prefer to buy new clothes for themselves and their children, leading to price surge.
“Christmas period is a good period for all businessmen and women because we make much gains during the period.”
Also, the traders are also complaining of low turnout of customers. Ajayi said, there is still low turnout of customers, saying “I am optimistic that patronage will pick up as the Christmas approaches. 
She said, “Things are more expensive in the market even more than last year, there is no money to buy, people are not patronizing us, and sales are low.
“The festive period does not affect the sales but dollar rate caused the increase of market prices, with the high exchange rate of dollar.”
She added that due to illiquidity in the system, this is affecting sale as some customers are complaining of having not received salaries for months, adding that the present administration closure of border also inflates the prices of goods, and people want cheap clothes. 

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