How cash scarcity is crushing Nigerian consumers

By Abimbola Mohammed

Against the backdrop of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) monetary policy of redesigning 1000, 500 and 200 notes to control excessive cash in the economy, consumers across the country are currently experiencing untold hardship as a result of the apex bank’s inability to inject the amount of new notes commensurate with the old notes, which has almost been completely withdrawn from the economy. In addition, the unavailability of fuel in rural and urban areas has plunged an average consumer in double jeopardy.

The ongoing crisis has, in no small measure, affected person-to-person, person-to-business and business-to-business transactions across Nigeria. Marketing intelligence revealed that the rate of consumption has dropped drastically with many consumers going only for essentials.

On a visit to Oke-Arin, a popular grocery market on Lagos Island, the MARKETING EDGE team confirmed that the market, which used to be bustling with wholesalers, retailers and consumers, has become a ghost of its old self..

Speaking with MARKETING EDGE, a wholesaler, Mrs. Aina Ojikutu, who deals in wines and spirits, said it has been so difficult to even sell 10 cartons of wine in a day due to scarcity of cash and challenges they encountered while using online banking.

“The scarcity of cash is a big challenge for us traders. I normally sell almost hundreds of cartons of wine daily, but since this change of currency started, it has been difficult to make sales. We are just managing; I have not sold up to 5packs as I am speaking with right now. I just pray that the government finds a solution to this policy before it gets out of hand,” she said.

Another trader, who sells beverages at the same market, stated that sales have dropped drastically as people now prepare to buy essentials rather than what they can do away with.

“I still believe that my coming to market today will not be in vain because as it stands, I haven’t been able to make any sales since I opened the shop. Today, being Thursday, we don’t open until 10am, coupled with the low scarcity of cash and even fuel is really contributing to low sales,” she said.

Corroborating the Oke-Arin scenario, a market survey carried out at Ikorodu Market, saw traders lamenting on low sales. A visit to a butcher’s shop simply known as Mr. Akeem, also confirmed low sales.

“You can imagine that we that are selling meat are complaining about lack of sales. What should other people say? We the sellers don’t even have enough cash to buy cows from the abattoirs. Another problem we are having is the challenges of transferring money online. We have encountered so many failed transactions which has resulted in us not collecting transfers from our customers and even buying,” he lamented.

In the same development, a pharmacist also noted that sales dropped for some days because people don’t have enough cash to buy medication.

“It is really a tough one since the end of January, people don’t have cash yet online banking is not forthcoming. Because of the nature of our business we are forced to sell medicine to people because we believe in saving lives first; but for some days now we stopped online transactions because we discovered that when some customers transfer money to us we don’t receive it. Many people went with our money because of the delay in receiving the alert,” he revealed.

On a visit to Ogba Park in Ikeja Local Government, Lagos, Olabisi, a commuter, explained her ordeal in trying to get cash to move around. She narrated how she almost got stranded at the bus park because she didn’t have cash to pay for a bus fair.

“I don’t understand where we are going in this country; I could not pay for my transformation fair yesterday because I ran out of cash. I decided to use the ATM but it wasn’t dispensing, I went to a POS vendor who wanted to charge me N300 on 1, 000 naira. I was at the bus stop for a very long time before I saw someone who paid for my fair,” she said.

A few commercial bus drivers, who also shared their encounters, said some passengers now offer to make bank transfers when they board the bus, which sometimes end in bitter disagreements.


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