High Prices Cast a Shadow Over Nigerians’ Christmas Celebrations The festive season that typically witnesses a surge in demand for holiday-related products and services saw a stark decline this year, with traders grappling with unprecedented low sales.

    High Prices

    The significant drop in purchasing power, attributed to rising prices of goods and services since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration implemented reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidy and unification of the official exchange market, contributed to the challenges faced by consumers. This trend, reflected in the headline inflation rate reaching 28.2% in November, has led to a notable shift in consumer behavior, with many opting for cheaper brands and reducing purchase volumes, particularly in non-essential items like Christmas lighting and decorations.

    Rice Market

    As of December 21, 2023, the average cost of a 50kg bag of local rice was reported to be N65,000, reflecting a more than 50% increase compared to the previous year. The surge in prices extended to imported brands, with notable increases observed in various foreign rice options.

    For instance, American Delta, a foreign long-grain rice, which was priced at N46,000 the previous year, has now risen to N80,000. Similarly, other foreign brands like Vitali, previously sold for less than N50,000 in 2022, are now being offered at N75,000 and higher, depending on the dealer. Despite dealers noting a consistent level of patronage, especially from associations and business owners purchasing in bulk for year-end gifts, there has been a reduction in both the quantity and sizes purchased by these customers.

    Nigeria Christmas

    The impact of soaring prices has resulted in changes in consumer behavior during the festive season, particularly affecting the sale of yuletide-related products. Vanguard’s investigations revealed a significant decline in purchasing power, causing unprecedented low sales for traders dealing in items such as rice, gift hampers, cooking oil, seasoning, fish, and meat.

    The removal of fuel subsidy and unification of the official exchange market initiated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration contributed to the surge in prices of goods and services, reflected in a headline inflation rate of 28.2% in November. This economic hardship has compelled consumers to opt for cheaper brands, reduce volumes, and avoid non-essential items like Christmas lighting and decorations.

    The average price of a 50kg bag of local rice reached N65,000, indicating a more than 50% increase compared to the previous year, with imported brands experiencing similar price hikes. While dealers noted a consistent level of patronage, some customers have shifted to smaller quantities and cheaper local grains, impacting the quantity and sizes purchased. The sale of gift hampers has also been affected, with consumers focusing more on essential items than complimentary items. Hamper dealers reported sales far below expectations, and some supermarkets have reduced the size and content of hampers to make them more affordable. The economic challenges have led shoppers to prioritize staple foods that can serve their families for more extended periods.

    Tomatoes, pepper prices market  

    Tomato scarcity

    Although the prices of tomatoes and pepper, essential food ingredients, have also witnessed an upward trajectory, market findings reveal that tomato prices remain relatively moderate compared to pepper in many Lagos markets.

    A trader at the popular Ile-Epo market, Mr. Adeola Ogunlana, specializing in perishables like vegetables, informed Vanguard that tomato prices tend to fluctuate. While acknowledging a rise compared to the same period last year, he noted that the Christmas season has not significantly driven up prices. Ogunlana explained the dynamic nature of tomato prices, citing instances where a basket could be priced at N16,000 one day and N13,000 the next. He emphasized that when supply surpasses demand, prices may experience a slight drop.

    Comparing the prices to the same period in 2022, Ogunlana revealed that a basket of tomatoes, which sold for N10,000 or N12,000, is currently priced at N16,000, representing a 33.3 percent increase in one year. Additionally, a crate of tomatoes, previously priced at N3,700 in 2022, is now being sold for N5,500, indicating a 50% increase from the previous year.

    Ogunlana highlighted the difference in selling practices, explaining that while tomatoes are sold in baskets and crates, pepper is sold in bags. Presently, the cost of pepper surpasses that of tomatoes, with prices ranging from N13,000 to N16,000, compared to its previous price of N8,000, reflecting an over 80 percent increase.

    Cooking oil price rise 50%

    Market investigations conducted in Abuja and Lagos have revealed that as of December 20, 2023, the prices of vegetable oil and seasonings have surged by 50 percent and 220 percent, respectively, compared to the same period in 2022.

    Vanguard’s checks indicated that consumers are opting for more budget-friendly brands, with Kings Vegetable Oil emerging as one of the most economical options. A carton, comprising four 5-litre kegs, is priced at N34,000, reflecting a 41.7 percent increase from the N24,000 recorded in the corresponding period of 2022.

    Following closely is Laziz Vegetable Oil, where a carton containing four 5-litre kegs is sold for N36,000 in 2023, representing a 42.3 percent increase from N25,000 in 2022. Grand Soya Oil takes the third spot, experiencing a 37.9 percent price hike to N40,000, up from N29,000 recorded in 2022.


    Other notable brands, such as Power Oil and Mammador Oil, have also seen substantial price increases. A carton of Power Oil, comprising four 5-litre kegs, now sells for N45,000, reflecting a notable 73.1 percent increase from the N26,000 recorded in 2022.

    Furthermore, the cost of a carton of Mammador Oil (comprising 4 pieces of 5-litre kegs) has surged by 70.4 percent to N46,000 in 2023 from the N27,000 recorded in 2022.

    In the case of imported vegetable oil brands like Weston Oil, the price of a 5-litre keg has experienced a 100 percent increase, reaching N23,000 in 2023 compared to the N11,500 recorded in 2022.

    Speaking to Vanguard, a retailer named Mrs. Nwachukwu Chibuzo noted, “The patronage compared to last year was such that shoppers opted for brands that were pocket-friendly, and as a result, we were only able to stock up on brands that were in high demand. These include Kings Vegetable Oil, Laziz Vegetable Oil, and Grand Soya Oil.”

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