Some owners and operators of recreational centres and beer joints in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have lamented the decline in business activities and customers’ patronage due to rising cost of living.
The operators, who said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, complained that the situation was triggered by the removal of fuel subsidy.
They added that this had led many patrons to reduce their spending on activities like alcohol consumption and others.
Visits to some recreation spots in the FCT over the weekend confirmed they now record dwindling patronage.
A proprietor of a recreation spot in Garki, Mr Chibuzo Nzewata, who expressed concern over a decline in business activity, attributed low patronage to the removal of fuel subsidy.
Nzewata said that one of the major challenges was inadequate power supply from the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, adding that running on generators from morning till the closing period would not grow the business.
According to him, customers have been visiting but there is a slight decline in profit margin, owing to the rising cost of running the business.
“Before now, we used to have a full arena but it has reduced due to high cost of living. People do not come out to patronise us like before.
“Selling of alcoholic drinks is what gives us more money than other drinks but sales have drastically reduced.
“I know that removal of fuel subsidy has made most of my patrons cut back on spending on activities like alcohol consumption and others.
“I believe that in spite of the economic crunch, Nigerians will soon get over this and come out to have fun and live up to their perception as the happiest set of people on earth’’, he said.
Another operator of a pepper soup joint and bar, Madam Julie Okoli said business activities had been slow since the removal of fuel subsidy.
She said that prices of commodities had also skyrocketed, adding that “this has really affected the way people visit joints and bars.
“The problem is that the economy is so bad that people only save their money for food and nothing else.
“It is someone who has comfortably eaten that will talk of going out to the bar to drink with friends.
“There is adjustment in the price of my pepper soup and Nkwobi; a plate of pepper soup was previously sold for N700, but it is now sold for N1000. `Nkwobi’ was formerly N1000 but now goes for N1500.
“People do not patronise us as they used to because of the economic hardship, but I believe things will normalise soon.
“As you can see for yourself, business is dull. The month of July was the worst month for us.
“On a Friday night, we use to make over N250, 000, but now we do not make up to N200, 000. The situation is really bad’’, she lamented.
Similarly, a proprietor of a recreation spot in Wuse Zone 5, Mr Godwin Idoko, while lamenting low patronage, said that his recreation centre had a live band that entertains customers but he could not afford to pay the drummers due to dwindling resources.
“We cannot afford to use the facilities we are used to and known for because we do not have the resources, and patronages have reduced drastically.
“If you are conversant with this joint, it is always full, but as you can see, there are more of empty tables and chairs’’, Idoko said.
It was also observed that most recreation centres in Wuse Zone 7 recorded low patronage.
Also speaking, a proprietor of a popular recreation centre in Wuse II, Mr. Ugo Emmanuel, decried low turnout of customers.
“Our performance this month has been the lowest considering the fact that we used to make more than N500,000 in one night.
“I was thinking that the workers were the problem, so I rotated them, but the performance has been the same.
“We have also engaged services of some up-and-coming artiste to come and perform on weekends, but we did not still get the kind of patronage we used to have.
“I know our customers have limited their ways of merriment in order to conserve their dwindling income.
“The situation is really bad for us; I pray that the economy improves because this is the only source of income I have’’, Emmanuel said.
Meanwhile, a customer, Mr Augustine Eke, said that he frequented a garden in Garki every Saturday but had to limit his visit to once a month due to increase in price of drinks and others.
According to him, a bottle of Heineken, which used to be N800, has now increased to N1, 200 while the green bottles like Life, Trophy and others have moved from N600 to N800.
“Cost of living is high now; so, if one must survive in the present economy, it is important to reduce the way money is spent especially when it comes to leisure.
“For me, I will still come out once a month to have fun in order to reduce stress”, he said.
A civil servant, Also, Mr. Andy Ihua, said that he had reduced his patronage to the recreation centres from three times a week to weekends so as to save money for other engagements.
“I will not stop enjoying myself due to inflation because that is the lifestyle I’m used to.
“I am used to this life style of coming to a joint and drinking my beer three times a week, but as it is now, I have reduced it to weekends and I will not stop because it makes me happy.
“I have been patronising this joint for over a decade; I like and enjoy their services, as you can see, there is live band here to entertain us as we drink’’, he said.
A resident of Abuja, Miss Patience John, said that in spite of the high cost of living, she would always come out at least thrice a month to enjoy herself.
“As a single lady, I come out to have fun by myself but at times, I meet guys here who pay for my drinks.
“There is significant increase in all goods and services, and as someone who likes to hang out, even if they sell my brand for N2,000, I will still buy it, she said.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Breweries PLC recently announced an upward review in the prices of some of its products to mitigate the impact of the rising cost of input.
In a memo to customers, the company said the price adjustment would take effect from August 10, 2023.