Nigerian shoppers are reported to be the fourth biggest foreign spenders in the United Kingdom. A report by the UK’s Guardian has revealed.
According to the report “Visitors from the west African nation are
the UK’s fourth biggest foreign spenders, ringing up an average £500 in
each shop where they make purchases – four times what the average UK
One of the Nigerians interviewed in the report, Victoria Appiah
disclosed that she stocks up on everything she needs for the next six
months in Nigeria whenever she visits the United Kingdom.
“I basically only do food shopping back home. It’s not that you can’t
get these things in Lagos, but everything here is much more reasonably
priced. If you want cheap products, Chinese-made have taken over in
Nigeria, and you can’t always vouch for quality” she said.
Holidaying or visiting relatives abroad is increasingly open to
millions of middle class Nigerians, with the number of visitors to the
UK increasing by more than 50% to 142,000 a year in the decade ending
2011, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In a country projected to become Africa’s biggest economy next year,
and the world’s fifth most populous by 2050, businesses at home and
abroad are cashing in.
In Debenhams’ Oxford Street branch, signs in Hausa-one of the
official Nigerian languages in the country’s largely impoverished
north-direct shoppers to items on sale.
This year, the shop said that Nigerian customers were its biggest overseas spenders.
Daily flights plying the lucrative route between Nigeria and the UK
have ballooned in the last decade.
British Airways permits almost double
the normal baggage allowance for the six-hour haul.
In some cases, Nigerians are literally using their deeper pockets on sprees.
Shola Obadeyu wore a heavy duffel coat while queuing in Heathrow for a flight back to her sweltering home city of Abuja.
“I can save [airline] baggage space by putting small things like vest
tops and underwear in the pockets,” she said as she queued with other
passengers, almost all struggling with bulging suitcases.
Back in Abuja, Obadeyu sells wares bought in London “at prices that don’t kill you”.
Others are tapping the market. A mushrooming middle class snapped up
10m microwaves last year. Big name brands from Apple to Zara have sprung
up to feed those aspirations.
The African-based discount supermarket giant Shoprite is pouring
$205million into its current three outlets in Nigeria, while the US
hypermarket Walmart sees scope for 50 outlets in the country.
On a recent trip back from Europe, Marie Claire Lienou lugged 50kg of
frozen meat in a freezer bag back to Nigeria. “You can’t compare
[Shoprite's] prices here with their prices in Europe. For 10 steaks
there I can buy two here. You just pay what you have to for the
convenience and guarantees,” she said, pushing a trolley laden with
relative luxuries such as bagged salads.
“Nigeria is very crowded, traffic is terrible, fakes [wares] are
everywhere. The only thing I’ll buy from the market is fresh bulk
vegetables, because there are no fake tomatoes,” she added.
Being middle class in Nigeria isn’t cheap. In a brightly lit KFC
across the shopping centre, Taiwo Edun, an engineer, treated his
girlfriend to crispy chicken and chips, a luxury beyond the reach of
many at $20 (£13) a pop.”I don’t consider myself in the super-rich
class, I’m not chartering flights for my friends to go on holiday like
some Nigerians can. But I can come here maybe once a month,” he said.
The widespread corruption and infrastructure woes that plague Nigeria
– including daily power blackouts that are smoothed over by millions of
generators–push up the costs of running businesses here, keeping most
dependent on informal, market-style retail.
Abrupt plans to introduce a new N5,000 (£20) note worth five times
the current highest bill have caused an outcry, with market sellers
saying it would drive up prices.
On the back of one of the notes will be Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, mother of the Afrobeat singer Fela Kuti.
Ransome-Kuti made her name as an activist with a mass protest against policies that increased prices for market women.
Meanwhile, those who can afford it continue to see a better deal
abroad. The country’s central bank throws billions of dollars into
propping up the Naira at artificially high rates, hurting millions of
local exporters and encouraging Nigeria’s shopping exodus.
Indicating her clutch of M&S carrier bags, Appiah said it was her
five-year-old grandson’s favourite shop. “As long as the weather is not
too cold, Nigerians will be shopping in London,” she said.
Culled from TheGuardian