August 27, 2020
Jumia staff working in a warehouse
In July, Kasi Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for Nigeria saw an improvement for the third month in a row up 9 points to reach +17. This increase was again driven by increases in sub-indexes related to future expectations. Nigerians are so optimistic about the future that the future expectations index increased by 12 points up to +37 which is comparable to pre-pandemic data. In contrast, consumers are rather downbeat about current conditions and the index is still low compared to pre-pandemic, dropping one point from last month to -34.
Lifting restrictions and pandemic recovery efforts improve sentiment around future expectations.
According to the Kasi COVID Pulse survey 68% of respondents feel that the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is happening now and therefore that the situation will improve as time goes on. Nigeria’s sub-indexes which portray, sentiment for the future have rebounded to numbers comparable to the pre-virus months of 2020. More consumers are feeling that in the next six months not only will the national economy improve but they will also have more income for discretionary spending.
Although it is quite uncertain whether Nigeria will return to normal in the next six months, the COVID situation does appear to be improving in general. More restrictions have slowly been lifted; mosques were recently opened for worship at 50% capacity while international flights are expected to resume later this month.
Recovery rates are also up in Nigeria. According to the Worldometer’s coronavirus tracker, although Nigeria recently cracked 50,000 COVID cases, around 75% of those patients have recovered. This is a better recovery rate than that recorded for both South Africa and Egypt by the same source. The USA recently sent 200 much-needed ventilators to Nigeria to assist with recovery efforts. Although Nigeria is still the African country with the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases, it is important to keep in mind that they are also the most populous country on the African continent. Nigeria’s strong prevention measures in the spring have played a hand in reducing the spread.
While Nigerians became more optimistic about the future, low job prospects and household income continue to be a concern short term.
Job prospects remain a continually negative sub-index for Nigeria, decreasing one point to -34. Additionally, the Kasi COVID Pulse Survey revealed 70% of Nigerian respondents are finding it more difficult to find a job because of the pandemic. KASI data also shows that after staying well and healthy, the next top priority for Nigerians is earning more money. The sub-index for making present-day large purchases also remains low at +1.
This communicates the difficulty that Nigerians are having in finding steady work but also the difficulties that companies are facing in staying in business and employing workers. While the pandemic has offered opportunities for innovation to some entrepreneurs, it has also dealt a blow especially to SMEs in the informal sector who were not prepared for a crisis and have struggled because of the lack of financial support and inability to transition to working from home. As inflation rises, an increase in Nigeria’s population living in poverty by the end of the year is also a worry.
Brands are having a tough time in Nigeria due to consumer behavior changes and pandemic conditions.
Retailers are facing a tough economic climate around the world and Nigeria is no different. Nigerian consumers are still feeling wary about making large purchases on items like furniture or electrical appliances today. Consumers are more focused on the essential items they need for everyday life like basic food supplies, disinfectant products, and productive equipment like face masks. Changes in consumer behavior from Kasi data can be seen in how they approach grocery shopping which is by shopping at less busy times, cutting down the number of times they go to the grocery store and when they do go, they’re stocking up and purchasing necessary items in bulk.
The combination of very low sentiment in job prospects and Nigerian concern for earning money paints a picture of an economy which, struck by COVID-19, is trying to avoid non-essential purchases. This isn’t translating well for large retailers in Nigeria, supermarkets are having an especially hard time. Shoprite, a South African supermarket chain, announced in early August that it will be the latest retailer to leave the Nigerian market. Another factor is the latest devaluation of the Nigerian currency which makes it even harder for businesses, especially those from outside Nigeria, to make profits and pay expatriate employees or import goods.
Jumia is another e-commerce retailer facing issues in Nigeria. They released their second-quarter results in early August where the latest in a long string of operating losses was revealed. While Shoprite has relied on traditional brick and mortar stores, Jumia is a completely online marketplace. During the COVID pandemic, Kasi data has shown that Nigerians are not transitioning to online shopping in the same number as is happening in other parts of the world. This begs the question, are retailers really struggling because of economic measures like the exchange rate? The bigger issue is perhaps that retailers are simply not adapting to the market structure and providing the products demanded by Nigerians.
By Emma Borhi, Economic Intelligence Group at Kasi.
About the methodology
Kasi Consumer Confidence Score (Kasi CCI) is a composite index compiled from a seven-question survey that runs monthly via our consumer polls in the countries covered. The data output is based on a fresh, randomly selected representative sample of city dwellers aged 18-64. Released the first week of every month, Kasi CCI provides a focused view on consumer perceptions in seven African urban centers (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Tanzania) where most spending in the continent is concentrated.
For each question, the final metric will be a ‘balance measure’ of the percentage of positive responses minus the percentage of negative responses. The overall metric will be an average across all the questions.
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