Naturally, Nigerians, and Africans in general, love weddings and the rich culture it displays. However, in recent times, with the pandemic, the thrill of weddings has gone down. With everyone practising social distancing and many wary of large gatherings like we have at weddings, the wedding industry has greatly slowed down. This has adversely affected the fashion sector of the industry.
The MAWA Foundation with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) recently released a report of the impact of the pandemic on the wedding industry. According to the report, the wedding industry was hit badly by the pandemic. By getting information from various entrepreneurs, including fashionpreneurs, in the industry, the report gives an insight into what is happening there.
Wedding stores in major cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt recorded losses running into billions of Naira during and after the lockdown
During the lockdown and afterwards, fashion entrepreneurs who sell wedding gowns and aso-ebi fabric have seen huge losses. Based on this, entrepreneurs that deal in Aso-Ebi and bridal fashion have acquired losses running into billions of naira. This decline occurred because entrepreneurs that specialise in bridal fashion saw a high decline in brides once the pandemic hit.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the wedding industry is so huge that the loss runs into billions of Naira when calculated across the country,” Mrs Janet Chimaobi, a fashion entrepreneur whose business crumbled during the lockdown said. She also added that major cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt were the hardest hit by these losses.
The Aso-Ebi sector was, however, hit the hardest with business still being slow even with the lockdown over. According to Mr Peter Omanya, a fabric seller in Abuja, he and other fabric sellers have recorded losses running into millions. Before the pandemic, he used to make over N1 million profits monthly from Aso-Ebi clothes alone, but when the lockdown started, he recorded over N5 million losses in Aso-Ebi clothing alone.
With weddings cancelled and customers staying away from large gatherings, Aso-Ebi sales have naturally seen a decline.
Online fashion stores made sales running into billions of dollars during and after the lockdown
While many bridal fashion stores were making losses, online fashion stores were making loads of profits. According to a report by PayU, these profits ran into billions of dollars during the lockdown alone. This means that even though the wedding sector was taking a major hit, other sectors like the beauty and cosmetics sector and the casual fashion sector were blooming.
Also, Nigerians have begun to embrace online now more than ever. According to the report, in 2021, “Nigerians will spend $2.27 billion on fashion items and $255 million on beauty and cosmetics products online”.
These figures indicate that more Nigerians are embracing online shopping as opposed to shopping at physical stores. With the figures expected to soar higher this year, online shopping of fashion items is becoming a trend.
To read more about this report, click here.
What does this mean for fashion entrepreneurs?
The fashion industry is still thriving. While the wedding sector might be have been hit hard by the pandemic, other sectors are still going strong. Also, online shopping is here to stay. Regardless of what you sell as a fashion entrepreneur, your customers want to see you online.
With many still enjoying the work-from-home life, online shopping is gaining new ground. As the saying goes, “Go where your customers are”. For a fashion entrepreneur in this day and age, it is important to have an online store. This makes it easier and less stressful for your customers to patronise you at any time. It also takes away the fear of contracting the coronavirus from the hearts of clients.
Now, even fashion stores with physical locations have to start looking into building an online presence. This way they can serve both customers that love to shop the traditional way and those that prefer online shopping.