As we continue to tell about the impact of COVID-19 on business and income, many are not paying attention to the negative impact of the pandemic on the marriage industry in Nigeria.
With support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the MAWA FOUNDATION examined the impact of COVID-19 on the wedding industry.
The wedding industry is one sector that has continued to be impacted by COVID-19. From the start of the lockdown, the Nigerian government banned large gatherings and ordered its citizens to strictly observe social distancing.
This, in turn, has led many future couples to cancel and postpone their marriage. This has led to a major lull in the wedding industry which has hurt business and income generation.
In an effort to find out how the pandemic has affected the wedding industry so far, MAWA FOUNDATION spoke with the main stakeholders in the sector.
They include event planners, photographers, DJs, caterers, fabric and wedding merchants. These people provided insight into the impact of the pandemic on their businesses and income.
If so, they have all said they have been affected by the pandemic and are still struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
Mr Samclaire, a photographer from the Kabeyi area of Mararaba, Nasarawa state, told MAWA that in the past he covered about five wedding events every Saturday and made over N50,000 per week.
But, during the lockdown, the weddings were called off completely and there were no cases. He added, however, that even though the lockdown is over, he is still struggling to get back to business, pointing out that some of the big weddings that have been called off due to the pandemic have never been rescheduled.
Explaining the situation, Samclaire said he was not the only one plunged into financial mess by COVID-19 and added that almost all Nigerian events and independent photographers face economic hardships dared by the pandemic.
Fidelis Iga, who operates “the Natural Photo Studio” in Keffi, Nasarawa state, also corroborated Samclaire’s statements.
Recounting the situation, Mr Iga said photographers were always happy every Saturday as they would cover wedding events in cities. He also said that since the start of the pandemic, business has not gone as usual.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, every week I was doing more N70K, but from the start of the lockdown until this time my colleagues and I have struggled, many wedding events have been called off and those that haven’t been canceled usually have few guests, ”Mr Iga said
The situation is no different for Catherine Uchenna, a wedding caterer who resides in Karu, Abuja.
Ms Uchenna, who said her main business was providing food for weddings, said the impact of the pandemic on her business could not be quantified.
She said: ‘As soon as the lockdown started weddings stopped and business started to go down, I sold two of my buses and I am now in trouble.’
No more losses
During the interviews, MAWA FOUNDATION realized that for many in the Nigerian wedding industry, Saturday was a day they all looked forward to for obvious reasons.
Another respondent was Ruth James, an Abuja-based event planner and caterer who has worked in the wedding industry for over 15 years.
Ms James, who has managed more than 70 marriages in a year, said that since the COVID-19 outbreak, she has only managed to manage 11 marriages with minimal profits.
She said: “There is no one in the wedding industry who has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact is so huge that it will take some of us more than 10 years to recover, I sold properties and borrowed loans to survive. the impact of the pandemic, ”.
Philip, a DJ, while speaking to MAWA, said it was wrong to think that after the lockdown is lifted, normalcy will return to the wedding industry.
He stressed that the wealthy who have money to spend on weddings are not prepared to break the social distancing rule until a vaccine that guarantees immunity is discovered and citizens are widely vaccinated.
He added that many weeding inventions are still limited to 50 guests and low cost.
Tanze Lucas, director of the Crystal Guest House located in Keffi, GRA, Nasarawa state, told MAWA that wedding events are a major source of income for his hotel.
He revealed that their reception halls are always reserved for weddings, and in addition to reception halls, many wedding guests also stay in their hotel, frequent their bar and other services.
Mr Lucas told the MAWA team that things have really changed since the lockdown began in 2020.
Asoebi and the wedding traders said they are still counting their losses as well.
Vendors of Asoebi, a uniform dress traditionally worn in Nigeria as an indicator of cooperation and solidarity during ceremonies and festive times, were also not spared.
A representative sample of Asoebi salespeople surveyed said they have yet to recover from the huge losses experienced in their business.
Janet Chimaobi, who operates a bridal shop in Ikeja, Lagos, spoke to MAWA via a phone conversation and said the impact of COVID-19 on the wedding industry is so huge.
She revealed that the losses run into billions of naira while Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt are the most affected states.
Ms Chimaobi revealed that before COVID-19, many brides visited her store to purchase wedding dresses. But, his business collapsed from the start of the lockdown.
A fabric merchant, Peter Omanya, also told MAWA at his Abuja residence that he had incurred more than N5 million in losses just for Aso-Ebi clothing during the lockdown.
According to Mr. Omanya, he made an average of N1million naira in monthly profit alone with Asoebi alone, but pointed out that as soon as COVID-19 and the lockdown started, the weddings were called off and customers stopped. buy Asoebi.
Mr Omanya told the MAWA team that he was no exception while pointing out that many of his colleagues who made a good profit selling Aso-Ebi were forced to close their doors during the lockdown.
He added, however, that while the lockdown appears to be over, the business has yet to be decided as many people have yet to embrace the wedding events for fear of contracting the coronavirus.
Entrepreneurs in the wedding industry employ a large number of workers through both direct and indirect labor. But, with the COVID-19 outbreak, the industry has since been hit harder, and gamers are struggling to get back on their feet with little to no government support.
The results of interviews conducted by MAWA with some businessmen and women show that the marriage industry is one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, as the Nigerian government continues to give palliatives and support to business owners who have been affected by the pandemic, it must pay attention to stakeholders in the wedding industry.
She also needs to find a way to help them survive the enormous impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and incomes.
And in doing so, the government must put in place a mechanism that will ensure that those who have been affected and who need help are the ones who actually get the support.
This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa OSIWA
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