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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Price Hikes, the Unpalatable Christmas Gifts

 

By Emeka Chiaghanam

Christmas bell jingles every December, symbolizing a season filled with fun oozing from the festivities dominating the period. So, the Christmas season is typically characterised by joy, warmth, generosity, and a sense of togetherness. Christmas is the celebration that Christians use to remember the glorious birth of Jesus Christ globally. Be that as it may, it is clear that the aura of the celebrations often swings many non-Christians into the event.

Across the world, while specific cultural groups and personal traditions of the celebrations of Christmas may vary, the overall mood tends to be one of happiness and a shared sense of bliss.

In the festive glow of Christmas, where joy and generosity should reign supreme, Nigeria has witnessed a common yet disheartening tradition – the hike in prices of goods and services. The gyration of outrageous price hikes at the Christmas period in the country is incredible. This peculiar phenomenon contradicts the very essence of the Christmas spirit, turning what should be a season of charity into an opportunity for some to take advantage of goodwill and exploit others.

Ideally, the Christmas season should serve as a time for promotions and price reductions for goods and services, as is obtained in many other climes.

The Christmas festive period should be a season when corporate organizations, companies, and individuals ought to engage more in the spirit of giving back to society for patronage throughout the year. However, a concerning mentality has taken root in Nigeria, where the pursuit of extra cash has overshadowed the goodwill associated with Christmas in other places.

Some ‘Shylocks’ believe that the money they couldn’t make or lost from January should be made in December- the Christmas season. Thus, the period provides an opportunity for such Shylocks to use the platform of price hikes on goods and services. The repercussions of price hikes extend far beyond individual consumers. Those engaged in such practices find themselves ensnared by the economic consequences. They are not alien nor immune to the spiral effect of their selfish creations.

It feels disheartening that many business people begin preparing for Christmas sales as early as October, most with the hidden motive to hoard goods bought at normal prices to pave the way for price increases in the December period. The hike in prices not only disrupts the delicate balance of the supply chain but also gives rise to artificial scarcity, in some instances leading to dangerous ripple effects on the nation’s economy.

In some instances where goods and services are withheld from the market, consumers are left grappling with inflated prices and diminished choices. This wilful artificial creation of an excruciating supply and demand system in the Christmas season within Nigeria harms everyone in the country directly or indirectly.

Generally, the psychological impact of price hikes creates unnecessary panic in the market. Consumers, driven by fear of scarcity, may resort to impulsive buying, further exacerbating the problem. In the name of making December sales, businesses, in pursuit of maximizing profits, engage in shady practices, compromising the integrity of the good salespeople and scrupulous business entities.

Despite the adverse effects of price hikes, consumers often find themselves left with no choice but to patronize the market. This predicament reflects the desperate need for a change in the pricing narrative, as consumers become unwitting participants in a market atmosphere tainted by greed.

In pursuit of ways to discontinue or discourage such practices, some people have suggested strengthening regulatory frameworks and enforcing regulations that can act as a deterrent to businesses engaging in price hiking.

In some quarters, some people have proposed promoting consumer education campaigns to empower individuals, encouraging them to resist panic buying and be more discerning in their choices.

Addressing the unwholesome conduct of an increase in the price of goods and services during Christmas in Nigeria is beyond government intervention but a matter of conscience for those involved to discontinue and embrace the true love of Christmas. The true spirit of Christmas is not an unwholesome gyration of discomfort but a dance of giving, compassion, and shared joy.

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Emeka Chiaghanam, author, blogger at Heraldviews.com

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