Christmas blues as COVID-19, recession cast shadows on celebration

Annually, Christmas has been a period when millions of people, especially those who profess to be Christians, all over the world gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, this year’s Christmas is marred by the COVID-19 pandemic; the #EndSARS protests and the violence and looting that followed; and the announcement that Nigeria had entered a recession.

There have been reports of companies shutting down due to COVID-19 while those still open struggling to survive. The cost of living has been high ever since the first quarter of this year due to the closure of borders and there have been reports of people losing their jobs.

Today, prices of goods keep rising.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a recession is a significant decline in economic activities spread across sectors, lasting more than a month, normally visible in the real gross domestic product, real income, employment, industrial production, wholesale and retail sales.

The current economic recession has been attributed to the pandemic and border closure. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s gross domestic product declined by -3.62 per cent in 2020, thereby recording a full-blown recession.

Speaking with Financial Street on her preparation for the Christmas celebration, Ayomide Olabamiji, a Lagos-based fashion designer, said, “There has been a low turn-out of clients since the start of COVID-19, which is early this year and I thought it would change a little bit during this festive period but unfortunately, the recession came again to make this year miserable for fashion designers.

“It is tough for us as fashion designers but we won’t blame the people, because it is only when there are movement and money that clients would think of bringing clothes to us to sew.

“Personally, I have never witnessed this kind of economic hardship that would make everyone sit at home in Nigeria. I’m just being hopeful and prayerful that next year wouldn’t be this hard for us.”

In the same vein, a businessman, Babajide Popoola, recounted his experience.

“It has always been my norm during Christmas to get my children gifts and take them to exotic places in Lagos but COVID-19 and the recent recession have changed this for me this year,” he lamented.

When asked about the growth of his business this year, Popoola said, “For the past six months, there has been low income, which in a way affects the salaries of my workers and it is even affecting my family directly. My wife has been the one helping me. Things have been really difficult this year. I just pray that next year is not like this.”

Despite the general rise in the prices of goods and services, which led to low purchasing power, an increase in debts coupled with mass unemployment, Christmas is expected to remain a special day for many families to celebrate with their loved ones.

“I will travel to Anambra to meet my family. Though, unlike years that I usually get more goods for them for the celebration, I will have to cut down the goods this time, which I believe they will understand,” said Uche Chuks, a Lagos-based engineer.

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