Valentine: Leisure outlets bemoan low sales amid tough economy


By Orji Onyekwere

For a lot of Nigerians who would have loved to celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day with their loved ones or in a more special way, the harsh economic realities in the country seem to have rubbed off the shine, glitz and glamour that are always associated with Valentine celebration.

The fact that this year’s Valentine’s Day celebration took place during a working day and on an Ash Wednesday may not have helped matters.

A visit to some fun outlets like eateries and leisure parks showed low turnout of people. Unlike the previous celebrations where many people are garbed in their red attires to indicate the significance of the day, not many people could be seen wearing red attires to signify what the day represents.

For Christiana Mojeed, who has been married for four years, she only sent a WhatsApp message with an emoji of love to her husband, who left early for work that morning. Her husband already made it clear that he was not buying any gift for her neither is he talking her or the children out.

Julius Agunwa is a car dealer at auto wharf, Apapa. He always buys gifts for his wife of over six years during Valentine. According to him, he makes sure that every Valentine’s Day, he takes his wife and two kids out and they use the opportunity to bond the more. But this time, things are different. Asked what he gave the wife for Valentine, he told this correspondent that he bought female perfume for her and a pair of school shoes for the children.

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Esther Nwachukwu, a lawyer, shared her valentine experience. She said, her fiance only sent a love message to her and even when she offered to take him out for a treat, he turned it down with the excuse that he was busy at the office.

A visit to some of the shops and malls at Ikotun area of Lagos State showed that there was low patronage for dealers of gift items. A trader in one of the shopping malls, Chukwudi Ikenga, who sells gift items told Saturday Times that since the beginning of the week, he only sold three valentine cards and a perfume unlike other years that his shop is always a beehive of activities during the valentine period.

At some of the eateries around Ikotun and Egbeda, you could count the number of people going in and out of these eateries despite special offers by some of them to attract customers.

Andrew Ekong, one of the managers of an eatery in the Egbeda area of Lagos, told this correspondent that this year’s valentine experienced extreme low patronage unlike the previous years. He attributed it to the harsh economic conditions in the country.

Incidentally, this year’s Valentine celebration coincided with the ash Wednesday which is the beginning of the Lenten season, a period of fasting and sober reflection for Christians.

The history of Valentine’s Day is told in many versions, one of which is that Saint Valentine was a priest arrested for officiating marriages of Christian couples.

Claudius ll who was emperor of Rome during this period, had banned marriages for young soldiers in order to keep a strong army.

Saint Valentine was martyred on February 14th for going against this law by blessing couples and lovers.

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