• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Cost of living crisis: In Nigeria, love now ‘costs a thing’

What Love cost Nigerians

In Nigeria, the traditional celebration of love on Valentine’s Day is taking a hit as the soaring cost of living renders romantic gestures increasingly unaffordable for many.

Jennifer Lopez’s sentiment in her song ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing’ now flies in the face of the reality facing many Nigerians: expressing love comes with a hefty price tag.

“Love now costs an arm and a leg,” lamented a Lagos-based young man. With inflation rates soaring and necessities becoming more expensive, extravagant displays of affection are fast becoming out of reach for many.

High price increases have been recorded in transportation, feeding, housing, raw materials and health care, among others.

The situation is worse for most Nigerians living from hand to mouth, which means they spend virtually everything they earn to sustain themselves daily, with little or no spare cash to tuck away.

Read also: Cost of living crisis and inflation, what’s Next?

What’s worse is that some Nigerians are facing their inflation struggles without jobs.

“At a wholesales shop in Lagos Island where I regularly buy from, my vendor (customer) told me he got for over N17 million things he would ordinarily pack from the market for about N8 million. You can guess how much I, in turn, purchased from him,” said Deborah Ohifeme, CEO of Debs Cakes & Events.

She said: “The dollar increase, inflation has affected everything. Normally, before you even put out your offers, people are asking you how far, is there Valentine package? but, you hardly get questions like that now. It feels like everybody is managing.

“Last year, I could comfortably curate a N10,000 or N8,000 Valentine package, but this year, a single item on your package is already going for about N15,000, and at this amount, the package is going at a very tiny profit; little or no profit at all, honestly, because you just want to do it and keep your business going.

“I know some vendors like me who put out offers at the dying minute because they had long thoughts/contemplations on whether they wanted to embrace the challenge.”

Read also: High unemployment, food insecurity threaten fragile states’ economies – Report

Ohifeme, while lamenting the low patronage this year, said there has been a marked decline in requests/orders. “But all the orders I’ve got so far are from females, whereas the trend has always been the men placing orders more.”

For Babajide Akanni, an IT expert, the cost of living crisis informed his decision to scale back on Valentine’s Day spending, opting for an evening at home with his wife instead.

“We used to celebrate Valentine’s Day by splurging on gifts, but this year, we’re focusing on simple pleasures,” Akanni said. “It’s not about the cost; it’s about the thought behind the gesture.”

The impact of Nigeria’s economic headwinds is evident in the retail sector, with many stores reporting low patronage and reluctance to offer discounts due to fluctuating prices. The prices of typical Valentine’s Day gifts such as chocolates, teddy bears, and perfumes has surged.

Sope Oladehinde, CEO of MoTreats Golden Global, shed light on the challenges of catering to customers amid skyrocketing prices. “We’ve had to adjust our offerings to accommodate varying budgets. But despite the obstacles, we remain committed to spreading love and joy.”

While some Nigerians have opted to forgo Valentine’s Day celebrations altogether, others have found creative ways to express affection without spending so much. Ikechukwu Chuka, a media practitioner, emphasised the importance of continuous expressions of love beyond Valentine’s Day. “Gifts are nice, but genuine love is shown through consistent actions.”