Nigerians have been described as some of the world’s biggest spenders more than a few times. Recent research by Guardian UK shows that Nigerians are the fourth biggest spenders in the United Kingdom.
And we love to shop everywhere. From Dubai to Paris to London to New York, but London seems to rank as one of the popular shopping destinations for Nigerians spending four times what UK shoppers typically spend. The number of Nigerian visitors to the UK increased by more than 50 per cent to 142,000 a year between 1991 and 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics. Nigeria is projected to become Africa’s biggest economy by next year and the world’s fifth most populous country by 2050, and London is cashing in.
The London Evening Standard‘s feature on Simi Osomo, a 25 year-old Nigerian who makes six trips to London spending a total of £30,000 (N7,622,220) got my attention this morning.
According to the report, she spends about two weeks during each trip and goes shopping everyday of her trip.
Speaking about Nigerians and their shopping habits, she told the Standard “When it comes to shopping and Nigerians, I can tell you it’s just what we have to do.”
During every trip, she spends about £5,000 (N1,270,370). She tells the Standard that aside from the fact that goods are cheaper in London, it gives her a chance to have a holiday. “You can get lots of things in Lagos but they are cheaper here and you get to take a holiday and relax a bit. It’s only six hours away.”
Although she likes the variety of London, Marks & Spencer is one of Osomo’s favourite shops. “I love their fajitas. You can’t get them in Nigeria. I also buy soy sauce and Thai green curry paste, which is good because it lasts for a long time. Oh, and Crunchy Nut cereal, Skittles, Maltesers and tea. There’s nothing like a British cuppa. I get Lipton, PG and green tea. I love Zara, H&M, Topshop. But if I want something more high end, there’s Sloane Street.”
When it comes to getting her haul of hopping back to Lagos, she says it is costly. “All I pack when I come over is one pair of jeans and three tops. I bring two big suitcases but I always have to get another one and pay for excess baggage. I never learn.” British Airways has increased its excess baggage charge on flights from London to Lagos from £40 to £97 per suitcase in the past year. “They must have realised we always put an extra bag in and thought they’d try to make money out of it,” she told the Standard.
During her chat with Standard, she wore a green top from Zara, blue skinny jeans and new Christian Louboutin shoes. She also planned to buy an iPhone 5 later in the day for her sister. She said Zara which opened an outlet store in Lagos six months ago is affordable.
According to Osomo, it is not just rich Nigerians who come over to shop in the UK. “Middle-class people can afford to come and spend £600 on shopping in a week here. What I like about the UK is that it doesn’t discriminate. As long as you’re able to prove you have an income, accommodation in London and a return ticket, the authorities are more than willing to give you a visa. It’s closer than America and the customer service here is phenomenal.”
She loves to shop in summer which is the height of the shopping season, and also comes back for the January sales too. Her mother, a lawyer, and father, a businessman, often join her. She has just completed a law degree and is about to start a job in fashion journalism, which she hopes will give her enough holidays for trips to London.
Photo Credit: London Evening Standard