Nigeria: Shop On Wheels – Mobile Shops Go Viral As Economy Bites Harder

The economy is no longer smiling. The deteriorating state of the earnings has led many companies to downsize, leaving many staff stranded.

While many of the stranded staff grapple with what to do to make ends meet, a few go into personal businesses.

The few who go into businesses, however, still struggle to make up the cash needed to rent shops or relevant business premises.

As a quick fix, most of the people who bought cars when the going was good, are now turning their cars into mobile shops.

For them, it solves two problems. One, instead of parking cars at home and allow it to accumulate rust, because of fuelling issues thrown up by the recent removal of fuel subsidies, it is better to utilise them beneficially.

Again, turning the cars into mobile shops eliminates the most difficult factor of production: land.

No wonder, at every turn, you see otherwise corporate workers, turning into bread, ice cream, clothes and other wares merchants, just by a flip of their cars or buses’ boots.

Some others use their private vehicles for ride-hailing businesses or hawk shoes, clothes, kitchen utensils, electronics among other products.

Economy& Lifestyle discovered that not only corporate workers are involved in this improvisation, many others are those who once had a shop and due to the increase in rents have resorted to moving and selling their goods from one spot to another with their vehicles.

Marvin Umukoro, a shoe seller, said he had a shop at Iyana Iba where he paid N300,000 a year. But a few months ago his rent was increased to N500,000.

According to him, “The caretaker said the decision was due to the various increases in the cost of goods and services in the country.

“If you have been to Iyana Iba, there are many people who sell shoes like me. The competition is very high. If it were before, I would have been able to pay such rent. But now, it is difficult to get three buyers a day. So, how do I afford such rent, including payment of my house rent and other bills.

“I just had to leave the shop and use my car to display my goods at specific junctions.

“When I display at market junctions, I pay N200 and make a lot of sales because I sell the goods at lesser prices as I do not pay rent for a shop. This inturn boosted my sales.

“At times I drive to Ikeja and park at strategic places to display my goods. I do not regret my decision. At least I make sales and I am able to foot my bills.”

Before, people used wheelbarrows as mobile shops to hawk their goods and display them at a strategic point sometimes.

These sets of people sell foodstuffs and phone accessories and are perceived to be unable to afford the rent for a shop.

However, the high cost of living has upgraded such innovation, as Mrs. Sandra Chukwuka, who sells London used clothes and accessories explained that many of her friends, who couldn’t afford rents for shop have also adopted mobile shop usage.

She said: “I use my car to sell my goods. As you can see here, I sell London used shirts, towels, shoes and electronic gadgets, which are on display. I even do Point of Sale (PoS) transactions here.

“I had a shop where I carried out my business. But in May, when my rent expired, my landlord just sent a notice of increase by 100 percent. I was very furious. Then they just removed the fuel subsidy. I had to pack my goods home and vacate the shop.

“I started looking for a shop, but to my surprise the rent I was offered to pay was very high. It was as if these shop owners held a meeting to increase rent.

“I gave up and opened an online shop but sales were not coming because of lack of trust everywhere. Even when I opted for payment after delivery. Only a few were willing to buy. Some wanted someone in their area.

“It was a friend of mine in Benin, who introduced me to using my car as a mobile shop. She was using her brother’s bike, which had a box where she displays her goods. She had to hang a banner on the bike to attract customers. She sells makeup kits.

“I was impressed and took the bold step, killing that shame of people will say: ‘Someone who has a shop is now hawking or selling on the street’.”

Mr. Riliwan, a caretaker and property agent, told Economy&Lifestyle that the high cost of living is also affecting the rich and not only the poor.

Hesaid: “The situation of the economy is affecting the rich and not only the poor. Many are owing rents and landlords and landladies are increasing their rents to be able to meet up with the rising cost of expenses since their property is an investment and no one prays to have losses in an investment.

“Even the cost of building materials is on the high side and workers have also increased their fees. Many property owners are even selling some of their property to survive.

“If you don’t have a personal house in this era, you will continue to bear the high cost of rent because maintenance cost is also increasing day by day.”

Mrs. Agnes Kofoworola, a property agent and trader said: “The only place you can see cheap rent is on the roadside where they pay daily based on sales.

“Everything is expensive now. Rents have increased by over 100 percent. Especially shops at strategic business areas. Many people who come to me for shops, when they hear the prices, they never come back for the shops.

“One had to block my line since I was disturbing her with calls because I also feed from the commission I get.

“Many are using mobile shops now because marketplaces online are filled with competitors and the lack of trust is affecting sales.”


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