It’s late after work and Efosa, an analyst at a consulting firm in Lagos is nowhere close to going home. Over the last 2 hours, he has been searching online for a perfect Valentine’s Day spot for his newly found sweetheart and himself. It’s not going as smooth as expected, despite having saved up some cash to splurge over the Valentine weekend.
Come this Friday, February 14th, 2020, millions of Nigerians will be celebrating an annual ritual of love along with their counterparts across the world. Retail sales on Val’s Day have been estimated to top $27 billion in the United States this year; it was $20 billion in 2018. In Nigeria, lovers will spend billions on gifts, food, drinks, hotels and transportation.
Harsh Economy, Debt binge
The country currently faces economic uncertainty, as Nigerians wonder how the outcomes of the latest string of policies and legislative actions will affect their finances. Just last month, the president signed into law the Finance Bill, a sweeping law that changes the fabric of taxation for tens of millions of businesses. The CBN’s heterodox monetary policies are, on one hand, forcing banks to lend more, while also reducing high yield investable funds for ordinary Nigerians.
This year’s Valentine is expected to significantly impact the economy in ways that we have perhaps not seen before. Nairametrics’ Founder, Ugochukwu “Ugodre” Obi-Chukwu believes lovers will have a lot more money to spend this year compared to last, despite not recording significant changes in their lives. “I expect to see a huge impact of Microfinance banks and FinTechs on spending decisions of most young Nigerians, particularly among millennials and generation Z,” Ugodre remarks.
Access to funding has never been easier for Nigerians like Efosa. Short-term personal loans are offered to splurge-hungry working-class millennials via social media, text messages and any means possible. The loan offers range between N5,000 and N1 million, depending on the borrower’s monthly salary. Thus, it’s no surprise who else stands to benefit from all these.
Windfall for Hotels and resorts
Findings by Nairametrics revealed that most of the beach resorts in Lagos and beyond are fully booked by lovebirds. One of these beach resorts is La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos. When Nairametrics contacted the company last week to ask about the possibility of reserving a room for February 14th, we were told that virtually all the rooms were already booked. According to the resort’s spokesperson, who spoke to us on the phone, there were only two rooms still available as at Wednesday, February 5th. As she said, “The possibility that someone else might reserve the rooms at any point is high.”
Unlike La Campagne, which had two vacant rooms as at the time of writing this report, Baracuda Beach Resort said all of its rooms were booked. Other popular resort hotels like Whispering Palms Hotels and Resorts, La Manga Beach Resort, and Epe Resorts and Spa all said their facilities were fully booked for lovers’ day.
“I’m afraid we currently do not have any available room at the moment. All of our rooms are fully booked for February 13th, 14th, and the day after,” said the person who picked up the phone when we called Eko Resorts and Spa’s phone line.
Lovebirds are also looking beyond Nigerian shores for even better love spots. Reports from some travel agencies surveyed suggest that quite a sizable number of Nigerian coupes will be traveling to Cape Verde, Mauritius, and other exotic destinations for the Valentine’s Day celebration. Some travel agents reported an increase in the number of people buying air travel tickets to these locations. These are people who prefer the tourist experience those places have to offer, as opposed to that offered by the Nigerian tourism industry.
We may not truly know what the value of 2020 Valentine’s Day is, but what we can clearly deduce is that everyone will be happy. Lovebirds get to spend quality time, lending institutions will see their loan books expand, while hotels, resorts and retailers will earn a sales boost. The losers will likely be those without lovers, who still get caught up in traffic and all the inconvenience that comes with Valentine’s Day.