Nigerian Consumer Sentiment Suffers Sharp Decline

Shifts in Africa’s Consumers
African woman wearing disposable medical mask and gloves shopping in supermarket during coronavirus pandemia outbreak. Epidemic time.

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The latest report from Nielsen West Africa has disclosed that consumer sentiment in Nigeria suffered a sharp decline in the second quarter of 2020.

In the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), it was stated that Nigeria’s index decreased by 14 points to 108, while Ghana, its West African brother, reported a substantial decrease of 15 points to 104.

The declines in the two West Africa giants were attributed to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the two countries to declared lockdowns as part of efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

This consequently caused loss in the economy and forced some companies to lay off some of their employees, while citizens were unable to purchase things they used to.

According to the report, in Q2 2020, Nigerian job prospects declined with less than half viewing them as excellent or good, a 14-point drop from the previous quarter.

Nigerians’ sentiment around the state of their personal finances also showed a decline with 59 percent who think they will be excellent or good over the next year, having decreased 19 points from the previous quarter.

Immediate-spending intentions also declined, with only a third of the respondents saying “now is a good or excellent time to purchase” what they want or need, a 14-point drop from the previous quarter.

In terms of whether Nigerians have spare cash to spend, 32 percent said yes, versus 50 percent in the previous quarter.

An analysis of Nigerians spending priorities, once they have met their essential living expenses, it was observed that 81 percent said they would put their spare cash into savings, 73 percent said home improvements and decorating and 66 percent would invest in shares/mutual funds.

Furthermore, 76 percent of Nigerians said they had changed their spending to save on household expenses compared to this time last year. To reduce expenses, 67 percent said they had delayed the replacement of major household items (a 10-point increase on the previous quarter).

In addition, 64 percent said they would spend less on new clothes and 56 percent said less out of home entertainment – both of which are understandable given ongoing restricted living patterns.

In the next 12 months, Nigerians said their top concern would be attaining a work/life balance (31 percent), which has seen the biggest increase of eight points compared to the previous quarter. This is followed by increasing food prices (23 percent) and concerns over the economy (19 percent).

Commenting on the consumer sentiment for Nigeria, the Managing Director of Nielsen Nigeria, Mr Ged Nooy, stated that, “As Africa’s largest economy and the largest exporter of oil, Nigeria’s economy was already under immense pressure before the COVID-19 lockdown due to the collapse in international oil prices.

“Based on the additional economic pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria, therefore, instituted a fairly early easing of its 5-week lockdown in early May due to the adverse financial effects on its economy and population.”

Elaborating on these results, Mr Nooy submitted that, “Economic recovery has been sluggish and will remain severely constricted due to the oil price crash amidst and beyond the pandemic.

“For Nigeria’s manufacturing and retail sectors to rebound will require a sharp focus, as trade opportunities and execution remains severely constrained, having further deteriorated during the partially restricted living period.”

Looking at Ghana’s performance, its citizens have significantly dropped their outlook around their job prospects, with less than half (45 percent) saying they will be good or excellent in the next 12 months – a 16-point decrease from the previous quarter.

In terms of the state of their personal finances over the next 12 months, 60 percent say they are excellent or good, again a substantial 16-point drop from the previous quarter.

Ghanaians propensity to purchase has also seen a considerable decrease quarter on quarter, with the number of those who think now is a good or excellent time to purchase what they want or need drop from 52 percent to 33 percent in the second quarter.

Only 43 percent of Ghanaians say they have spare cash, down 13 points from the previous quarter. Once they meet their essential living expenses, the highest number of consumers (74 percent) put their spare cash into savings, followed by 73 percent on home improvements/decorating and 56 percent who would invest in stocks and mutual funds.

One of the most significant drops in discretionary spending is on holidays down from 58 percent to 27 percent – a clear indicator of consumers’ mindset shift away from non-essential services and their desire to avoid unnecessary travel.

When asked whether they had changed their spending to save on household expenses compared to this time last year, 75 percent said yes, up seven points from the previous quarter.

To reduce expenses, 53 percent said they spent less on new clothes, 52 percent on out of home entertainment, with the same figure deferring on the replacement of major household items.

When looking at the real-life factors that are affecting their outlook, the top consumer concerns over the next 12 months were increasing food prices (29 percent), followed by work/life balance (23 percent) and their children’s education (22 percent).

Yannick Nkembe, Market Lead for Nielsen West Africa Expanded Market, noted that, “The latest consumer sentiments reflect the market reality.

“With the global pandemic affecting the economy and causing general uncertainty all around, consumers have readjusted their confidence levels and are also more cautious with their spend.”

Nkembe added that, “Ghana has previously experienced strong business prospects and with the relatively earlier easing of restrictions to stimulate its economy, recovery in Ghana is likely to rebound sooner.

“We expect consumers to revert to previous consumption behaviours, although some of their attitudes will have fundamentally or permanently changed post the pandemic.”

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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