Sharing hampers during the Yuletide season has been a long standing tradition but that tradition is witnessing a decline in recent years, CECILIA OGEZI, Abuja, ODIRI UCHENUNU and BUKOLA IDOWU, Lagos report
Christmas is here again, a season when people exchange gifts of different shapes and make. It is also a season of the hampers, colourful and attractive baskets packed with assorted gifts items.
Over the years gift of hampers has become very popular especially in the urban centres. The reason for this is not far-fetched, it satisfies the whole family. With hamper, there is a gift for everyone; gift for children, females, males, both old and young, so one does not have to think too hard for the kind of gift to get for each member of his family.
In recent times, the hamper business in Nigeria has become a lucrative business, not just the sale, but also the production of the hamper baskets. In fact these days people undergo special training in the art of making hamper.
In Lagos, one place is popular for the production of hamper baskets, the popular cane village in Mende, Maryland. When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited Mende, along Ojota road under bridge recently, it was bubbling as the weavers work frantically to meet their customers’ deadline. Our correspondents also discovered that many Lagosians both young and old have joined the hamper basket making business. The people were seen busy waving different types of hampers. However, our correspondents noted that not many buyers were on hand to pick up the hampers.
Assistant secretary, Lagos state Cane Weavers Association, Mr. Moses Eruware, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that this year is the worst of all the years he has been weaving and selling hampers under the bridge. He said, the last time they had a boom in the business was 2013.
As at August 2013, Eruware said people have starting trooping in, booking for thousands of hampers. “Then, we had to distribute the job among ourselves so that everybody can benefit. But things have changed,” he said.
“Since the 2016 recession, the hamper business has started dropping. This year is even the worst. This is December and we haven’t gotten quarter of the customers we used to have. The job you see us doing was given to one of us. He had to share it among us, so that he can meet up deadline.”
While the price of the materials they are using to make the hampers has gone up, Eruware said, “We still did not add to the price of hamper because of the fear that it will discourage people from buying.
“Some of us who have loyal customers are the ones enjoying this period. We just pray that by next week, market would start booming.”
Eruware however urged Nigerians to patronize them because they have put in more effort by being innovative in the making of hampers, adding that they have good, quality and affordable hampers that would meet their taste.
LEADERSHIP Weekend also visited big shops like Shoprite and supermarkets and noticed that the prices of hampers have gone up. As at the time of filing this report, hampers are sold at prices ranging from N18,000, N10,000 to N6000. The gifts in the hampers also varies according to the prices.
According to a regular buyer of hampers, Mr. Akin Adebayo, “Hampers were sold last year at N14,000, N8,000 and you can even see the one as cheap as N4,000. The one that they are selling for N18,000 was sold at N14,000 last year. I have moved around and the prices are the same. I will still have to buy because I can’t think of any other gifts to share this festive period.”
As to why the increase in the prices of hampers, one Miss Yetunde Akande who sells hampers at Shoprite, Ikeja said the prices of goods have gone up. She said, “We had to raise the prices because the prices of household goods have gone up.”
Speaking on the level patronage when compared to last year, Akande said, “Last year was a bit better than this year, but we are optimistic that business would boom as from next week. We are very hopeful.”
As for Obinna Chibuzo at G-Time Supermarket, they had to strategize by going to various companies and shops to market their hampers. He said, “While few people are coming to buy one or two hampers from us, we had to look for alternative ways to sell them.
“We started since October, visiting corporate offices and business people who may want to thank their customers. That is how we have been able to sell our hampers.”
A visit to Apongbon market shows that the high price which has affected the level of patronage has discouraged some traders from joining the seasonal hamper trade.
Compared to previous years, the road leading from Broad Street down to Apongbon market which used to be lined with colourful hampers, had only a few displayed.
One of the traders, Madam Ajoke told LEADERSHIP Weekend that sales had dropped over the years causing some of those who were involve in the seasonal trade to drop.
She explained that the rise in cost of wares had led to the higher cost of hampers. The prices of the hampers surveyed on the Island ranged from N7,000 to N50,000. The cheaper hampers had only consumables while the more expensive ones had household utensils.
Unlike in the past where majority of the hampers had woven basket, many of the baskets on display were plastic. According to one of the traders this is to further cut back on the price of the hamper as the price of woven baskets have also gone up.
A salesperson at Justrite, a shopping mall in Abule Egba area of Lagos State noted that the store had displayed two types of hampers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic to attract customers.
Some customers who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend complained of the high price of the hampers while some said they are considering skipping the purchase of hamper. “I am thinking of buying something that is worthwhile and wrapping it nicely for my brother-in-law rather than buy a hamper that I see as over-priced,” one of the customers said.
In Abuja, the nation’s capital, the story is not different as the interest of people in the FCT in the purchase of hampers has been on the downward trend in the last couple of years.
For the residents of the capital city, who are largely civil servants, the economic recession is the blame for the declining interest in the purchase of hampers as Christmas gifts for friends and clients.
Grace Adewole, a civil servant, who recalled the good old days when she received many hampers at Christmas, said she is always over joyed to receive Christmas hampers.
According to her, “The provisions in the so many hampers I get would be enough to set up a mini supermarket. They usually last us for close to two months if not more.
“But that was in the past, I was lucky to receive only one last year and this year with only a few days to Christmas, I have not seen any yet.”
Asked if she is planning to buy one and give to her friend, she asked rhetorically, “where will I get the money from? The smallest hamper with just tissue paper, some cabin biscuits, peanuts and a few other things cost as high as N7,000. Instead of me to spend that amount to buy that, I would rather send the money to the person.”
Commenting on whether the low it is because of recession that people no longer go for hampers as Christmas gift, a resident of Area 1, Abuja, Sunday Michael said, “If somebody has not bought food for his family, is it hampers that he would be thinking of. The economy is in a bad shape and you can’t blame people when they decide to shift from hampers to other kinds of gifts.”
LEADERSHIP Weekend also discovered that even the contents of gift hampers have evolved. For example baby gift hampers containing baby clothing and toiletries or a house warming basket containing soap, towels and coffee mugs.
A new trend is the agricultural gift hamper, a big basket with tubers of yam, plantain, some bulbs of onions and some potatoes neatly packed and in some cases bags of rice.
In Abuja, people are increasingly personalizing hamper gifts. For instance, you have people giving hamper of the latest range of cosmetics to someone who loves make-up or a clothes hamper for a fashion crazy friend.
Unfortunately, not many can afford the hampers. Our correspondent who went round some big supermarkets and shopping malls in Abuja reports that prices of gift hampers range from 50,000, for the big size, to 28,000 and 25,000 for the medium size and 15,000 to 8000 for the mini sizes.
A middle aged man, Paul Gami, who was obviously excited told LEADERSHIP Weekend that he is lucky having already received five hampers.
“I still get and give out gift hampers. I even have some at home as we speak,” he said with a broad smile on his face. “I know the economy is down and that is affecting the ability of people giving gifts during the festive season, but I have been particularly lucky, I’ve got five already.
“This year has been a lot better than the past two years if you ask me and even though gift hampers are on the decrease, I don’t think it can stop completely.”
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