December 27, 2023

Entertainment centres record mixed fortunes in Yuletide business

Entertainment centres record mixed fortunes in Yuletide business

File image Balogun Market, Lagos.

By Emeka Anaeto, Nkiruka Nnorom & Elizabeth Adegbesan

Traders and operators of entertainment centres in Lagos may have recorded mixed fortune in the 2023 Yuletide business season.

Vanguard’s findings across some notable centers indicated that though patronage increased in the past four days their turnover shows less business compared to the same period in 2022.

For instance a visit to some of the popular beaches in Victoria Island shows a beehive of activities with many operators of entertainment huts and cubicles making brisk businesses. 

Read Also: ‘I take from here to cover there’: Nigerians narrate Christmas adjustments

One of the operators, Isaac Olusola, told Vanguard yesterday that the day was his busiest since the year, adding that it has been good business since last Saturday with increasing tempo each new day. He hopes it continues to increase till the end of the festive days. 

He, however, added that last year’s business was equally big, but could not tell which one was bigger yet until the end of the festive period.

But his neighbour, Jerry, seems to be more analytical. According to him, “Yes we are busy attending to much customers, but I think the sales may be higher in terms of amount of money due to higher prices of the items we are selling, and not necessarily higher in terms of volume. I think we sold more last year.”

Malls & Game centers

A visit to shopping malls in Lekki and Victoria Island, however, shows significant increase in traffic but far less than what they usually record every Yuletide. 

One of the attendants at Circle Mall, Jakande, Lekki Epe Express, told Vanguard that “shoppers are not as much as we usually record at festive periods”.

He also noted that “even our car park is not full as usual.”

Vanguard’s visit to Festival Mall in Festac town, Lagos, at the weekend showed that operators of recreation centers within the mall had opened their facilities to visitors in readiness for the usual surge in the number of customers during the yuletide period.

Though some of them confirmed to our correspondent that their facilities are open every weekend throughout the year, they said that they prepared specially for the yuletide since the beginning of December. 

Some of the operators of the centers that spoke with our correspondent, said that customers just started trickling in during the weekend.

They, however, noted a drop in patronage compared to 2022 since opening for the yuletide, blaming economic hardship and customers’ poor purchasing power for the drop.

Vanguard’s visit to Play Zone, an indoor and outdoor recreational center within the Festival Mall, that houses thrilling games for adults and kids, showed that they have set up their gaming areas ready to receive customers.

Confirming the decline in customer traffic, Dickson Edoka, General Supervisor, at Play Zone, said: “We have indoor and outdoor sections. Our indoor section inside the mall is open everyday throughout the year and patronage is always fantastic because people will always find time to relax.

“For our outdoor games, we only set up for weekends. But for this Christmas season and New Year, we set up outdoor games at the beginning of this month (December). We have done two weekends since setting up and I can tell you that the number of people that have visited is nothing compared to what we had last year. “Usually, around this period, you will see an increase in customer traffic but it hasn’t been so this year.

“We don’t know what will happen starting from Saturday, December 23, but we are hopeful that more people will come.”

He noted that the company is considering increasing its prices both for the family and individual packages due to the general increase in the prices of things and the new features the company is introducing this year.

Speaking in the same vein, Lola Junart, Manager at Summerpoint Paintball and Astro Soccer Arena, said that customer traffic has also been low compared to last year (2022).

She said: “We are officially one year here but this is our second Christmas in operation. Last year was hugely busy for us, probably, because we were just starting and people were eager.”

Cinema & Eateries 

A visit to the Silverbird Cinema inside Ikeja City Mall showed little activity with no crowd.

A security man who spoke on anonymity said: “I was not here last year but what I heard from my colleagues was that this place was very busy last year unlike now that  few people are coming to watch a movie.

“The state of the economy which has seen prices of everything go up is not helping at all.

“This is proof that our economy is not allowing us to have our preferred standard of living which includes recreational activities.

“I believe by December 25th  the situation will be better because people will want to come out of their comfort zone to watch a blockbuster movie titled “A tribe called Judah”.

A similar trend was witnessed at the Play Zone located inside the Ikeja Mall.  Speaking to Vanguard, Mr. Henry Obafemi, a Photographer, said “As of December 20th last year this place was filled with people. If you see how long the queue was from the Play Zone meeting that of the Cinema.

“But the effect of the situation of the economy has crept into the businesses too.

“People now have to choose between food and recreational activities and we all know food is the most important need of man.”

Miss Toyin Olorunwa, a worker in one of the eateries in the Mall told Vanguard that the patronage this year was the worst they have experienced,  pointing at the empty seats in the eatery. She added: I don’t know what the Christmas and New year days will be like because we all know what the economy of the country is like.

“As at this period last year  this eatery was filled with people patronising us. There were no seats for some people. This year there is nothing like such.”

Also speaking to Vanguard, Mr. Babatunde Oluwafemi of Racomic pictures said: “This time last year I did a whole lot in photography.

“People were taking pictures here and there. The business was booming.

“Now the few people who visit the cinema or playzone just give their phones to a person to take a photograph of them.

When asked what he feels Christmas day will look like, Oluwafemi said: ““Seeing the way things are I just pray there will be patronage on Christmas day and the days after but I know it will not get to the level of last year .

“This is because there is no money outside. We all know this. Even the cash scarcity is affecting our business too.”

Vanguard News