Low turnout greets Lagos trade fair

As the 2020 edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) entered its fourth day on Monday, the number of visitors at exhibitors’ stands at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) venue remained low. 

The 10-day trade fair opened on Friday at the venue, but for the first time, is also running virtually. 

Exhibitors at the TBS venue, in separate interviews, attributed the low turnout to various reasons, including the postponement, low purchasing power of citizens, inadequate advertisement and inflated cost of items due to high foreign exchange rates. 

Mr Abdulraman Adamu, a textile merchant from Kano, said the volume of sales since the fair began was his lowest since he began attending the fair seven years ago. 

Adamu attributed the development to the EndSARS protests which led to the rescheduling of the fair. 

He said that the change of date was not properly communicated and advertised to visitors, and also contributed to the low turnout. 

Adamu, however, expressed optimism that the situation would turn around toward the end of the fair to prevent his firm from incurring financial losses. 

“The market is not like before; last year was better, but this year, we are just welcoming what we see. 

“Everybody knows Lagos International Trade Fair holds from first Friday of November. 

“But the protests have turned things around and we are unable to detect if we would run into losses or not,” he said. 

Mr Gabriel Igba, Store Manager, Sony Kitchen Mate, on his part, expressed optimism of improved sales later during the fair. 

Igba said he observed that few days to the end of the fair, customers thronged in large numbers to purchase items they had earlier window-shopped few days after the take-off of the fair. 

“The truth is, the turnout is low but we have hope that by Friday, many people that have visited our stands to know the prices of items would come back and be ready to buy. 

“That has been the norm so much cannot be determined for now. We are just here, waiting for them,” he said. 

Mr Ugochukwu Dim, LG store manager, said the COVID-19 and the increase in cost of some items due to high foreign exchange rates was affecting the fair. 

“COVID-19 pandemic has really affected people’s pocket, and on the other hand, prices of items, especially electronics, have somehow increased due to high foreign exchange. 

“We, however, have hope that things would become better as the days go by,” he said. 

Mr Buhari Haruna, a jewellery dealer, said the low turnout was as a result of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the purchasing power of ordinary citizens. 

The Lagos International Trade Fair is reputed to be the largest International Trade Fair in Nigeria. 

The yearly event attracts exhibitors from far and wide.