‘You came at the wrong time’
Reacting to the story, the Branch Manager, who didn’t disclose his name, told ENCOMIUM Weekly that there was no time the supermarket experienced poor sales since it started operation five-months ago.
He stated, “I’m not expected to talk to you but I’m doing this to correct the impression. The place was opened in June, and I want to tell you so far, it has been good. There was nothing like low patronage. May be because you came at the wrong time.
“That’s all. I won’t say more than that. If you want to know whether people patronize us or not, come on a weekend. Thank you.”
Meanwhile, the situation of one of the biggest mega-stores in Africa remained the same when ENCOMIUM Weekly’s correspondent visited there on Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
Apart from the few customers seen shopping, the demand for the most patronized commodity, freshly baked bread, was low. No regular queue was observed at that section of the mall before we left around 5pm.
Contrary to the branch manager’s claims that the peak of their activities fall on weekends, the situation is relatively the same, with few more customers seen coming in and out of the mall. Our correspondent was there on Saturday, October 5, 2013 to survey the market, but the rate of patronage was still low compared to what is being experienced in any other outlets in Lagos where families thronged, especially on weekends, for shopping.
A male staff, who also demanded anonymity, admitted unstable market, adding, “It’s a normal thing you experience when you run this type of business in this kind of environment. The patronage is irregular. At times, we record high sales, while some times, low. While we have most patronize commodities, we also have the ones the demands are very low. So, it’s difficult to say low patronage hit Shoprite.”
The problem with the mall that had thousands of people within Ibadan metropolis during the opening ceremony, according to a shopper, Omowunmi Abdus-Salam is the location. “Many people would like to come, but for the distance. It’s far from where I live, and getting to this place is a big problem, from Iwo Road to Dugbe.”
Another shopper, Mr. Ogundeji attributed the low patronage to the prices of commodities, saying they are not cheap. “Most of the products are not cheap.”
The ongoing ASUU strike, which has entered week 14 has been attributed as another contributing factor for low patronage. A corps member, Salisu Aliu said, “The mall was okay shortly before ASUU embarked on its indefinite strike. The bulk of students who should have been the major customers have left Ibadan for their respective homes.
“I’m sure Shoprite will still boom once the students resume.”
Despite this, however, some customers welcomed Shoprite in Ibadan. “It’s an eye-opener. I’m happy to see this development and it’s a plus for us, here in Ibadan. I like coming for shopping. Anytime I pass-by, it’s a great relief for me”, another customer, Cecilia told ENCOMIUM Weekly.
– RASHEED ABUBAKAR