-why we still patronise the mall
Residents of Ilorin, Kwara State are unhappy with the poor security at the state’s biggest shopping mall, Shoprite, and they calling on government to collaborate with the management of the mall towards ensuring security of lives and property.
Shoppers, who spoke with ENCOMIUM Weekly identified poor security as a major challenge facing the retail store since it started operation more than a year ago. This was manifested when we visited the mall, located at Fate area of Ilorin, on Thursday, October 17, 2013.
Customers were seen coming in and going out without proper security checks. No presence of armed security personnel within the mall, except harmless local security operatives on guard. A commercial motorcyclist, Ahmed said, the major problem here is security. Although, Ilorin is peaceful, the management should put in place adequate security.
Another shopper, Bola Sulayman recalled how customers were robbed of their valuables at gun point few months ago inside the mall. According to her, “I wasn’t there at the time of the incident, but my friend, who was among the victims said it was terrible. They carted away goods worth millions of naira. Although, nothing of such has re-occurred, I expect the management to have strengthened security within the mall.”
Other shortcomings acknowledged by shoppers include lack of cinemas, the distance, and long queue constantly experienced at the fresh baked bread section.
Speaking with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Kazeem Salisu said, the truth is, many people come here because of bread. Shoprite bread is very special, compared to others. You can eat the bread without supplement like butter. That is why there is always a long queue anytime one comes here. Some people wait for more than one hour to get the bread, yet some people won’t get because it might have finished before it gets to their turn.
“Unfortunately, Shoprite management has done nothing about it, and the situation continues. All they need to do is to add more staffers and bake more fresh bread for customers. The queue doesn’t worth it at all, for a big mall like Shoprite.”
Families that thronged the mall during the Eid-il-Kabir celebration moaned over absence of cinemas. Mrs. Dosumu, a Lagos-base trader, said, “As lovely as this place is, there is no cinema. This is bad. Does that mean cinemas won’t sell here? I disagree. A lot of families are here to watch movies, I’m sure they will be disappointed. In fact, I’m disappointed already, because I’m here with my family to have fun, watch movies.”
The location of the megastore is another challenge indicated by shoppers. Most of them believed that the mall is not to benefit the generality of Kwarans, as it only caters for the needs of some section of people in Ilorin.
Mr. Salisu said, “I think Shoprite was opened for the G.R.A residents and its environs, not Kwarans. One Shoprite cannot cater for the needs of Ilorin people alone, not to talk of Kwara State. We need more outlets, two to three, in Kwara State and I will suggest that one should be at Offa Garage area, so that people going to Ganma, Omupo, Ajase, Offa, Omu-Aran can shop before leaving Ilorin for their respective cities.”
Despite all these challenges, patronage is still high. The store was a mecca of all sorts during the just concluded muslim festival. Celebrants from within the metropolis thronged as they shopped for different items. Similar crowd was also witnessed when ENCOMIUM Weekly visited the mall on Friday, October 18, 2013.
Mr. Lateef Bolaji was at the shopping mall with his family. While some of them were busy taken “a wait and get photograph” at the rate of N200, Mr. Bolaji described the Shoprite as a place to be.
According to him, I come here regularly, but today, I decided to come with my younger ones. Apart from the food stuff, you get correct stuffs here. I get children wears from Max Stores at affordable prices and they are quality products. They send me alert anytime they have new arrivals. My younger ones are exposed to new technology at the PC corner, which you can’t see elsewhere, also at affordable rate.
The ambiance is superb. It has a spacious parking lot that can accommodate large number of cars. The beautifully decorated lights from the mall at night attract more customers, especially those who come for relaxation at the mall eateries. Our investigations revealed that the presence of Shoprite, which might have gulped millions of naira, has greatly affected patronage of other existing retail stores in Ilorin. Some, we learnt, have closed shops due to dwindling patronage.
ENCOMIUM Weekly also gathered that the popularity of the mall has affected the completion of government-owned Kwara Mall, which is meant to break the monopoly of Shoprite.
An insider hinted that government is having a rethink whether to complete the mall or not.
“As we speak, people have paid for shops in the mall, including some of the people that lost their big markets to Shoprite. But, the officer in charge of the mall is strategising on how to outdo Shoprite in terms of prices of goods and better welfare service, which the South Africa-owned shop is lacking.”
“They need to strategise, because Shoprite owners are spending more on publicity, than the profit they make on a monthly basis. They do radio commercial at least four or five times in a week, and at the end of the month, print fliers that would be distributed within the metropolis. They do everything possible to keep their customers, something I don’t think other Shoprite, even Lagos are doing. For instance, they get your mobile numbers the first time you visit their. Later, they’ll start sending you update of their commodities, amongst others”, the source explained.
When asked about his assessment of patronage in Shoprite, the source said, “It’s not encouraging. I tell you, quite number of people come to Shoprite because of bread, and how much is the bread? N300 or so! Why do you think Leventis and Kingsway in Lagos were popular in those days, it’s because of their bread! They have ways of attending to customers that you would want to come back. The same thing Shoprite is doing today.
“Also, the patronage of high commodity is limited, and most of these products get spoilt when the patronage are low. That’s a losts to them. Besides, why should Shoprite sell pepper, tomatoes, onions when I can easily get them in my area? Do you think I will come to Shoprite because of these commodities? Do you know how long their fruits spend on display? All these commodities will spoil but the question is, have you seen what they do with their spoilt products?”
Shoprite staffers however declined to speak with ENCOMIUM Weekly. Likewise, the officials of the mall were unavailable to react to questions. We, however, had a telephone chat with one Mr. Ola, who is said to be in charge of Publicity for Shoprite, but his response what neither here nor there.
“I am not in the best position to answer your questions, but I think it’s a wrong impression to say there is no security in the mall. I’m sure the management of the mall has put in place a mechanism to ensure security of lives and property. There were armed policemen during salah celebration, but I don’t know why you didn’t see them. I will urge you to speak to the management of the mall before you go to press. They are responsible for the security of the mall, not Shoprite. Shoprite is a tenant in the mall.
When asked questions partaining to Shoprite, Mr. Ola said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to speak further, because I’m in a meeting right now. Make sure you visit the management of the mall. Thank you.”