Strong indications emerged that the economic crunch being experienced in the country may be taking its toll on the ongoing 2018 edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI.

The 10-day annual fair, which is taking place at the Tafawa Balewa Square TBS, Central Lagos, commenced on November 2, 2018 and it is expected to end Sunday, November 11, 2018.

Investigations by our correspondent however show that as at Thursday, November 8, when the fair entered its 8th day, many of spaces allocated to exhibitors were yet to be taken, an indication that all might not be well, as this indicates exhibitors’ apathy.

It was further gathered that apart from some of the few foreign exhibitors, who record relatively high number of people visiting their stands, which also does not translate to huge sales, so many other exhibitors recorded low visit to their stands.

A ticket seller at the gate, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that sale of tickets to people to go into the TBS complex where the fair is taking is generally low, arguing that many people are unwilling to part with the N200 ticket fee to access the fair venue.

One of the exhibitors, who spoke with our correspondent lamented that there were very low sales, noting that many of those visiting the stands merely come to collect corporate gift items without really buying anything.

On the question as to whether he was making more sales compared to 2017, he said: “Though we still have four more days to go, and you know that normally we make more sales towards the end of the fair, what we are experiencing now is not encouraging. I think we made more sales by this time last year when people even said Nigeria was neck-deep into economic recession”.

Investigations also show that the usual hustle and bustle of the TBS area that have over the years become a major feature of the fair with the attendant high volume of vehicular traffic is yet to be seen around the area nearly one week after the annual event started.

Experts believe that the low turnout and consumers’ apathy that characterise this year’s trade fair is a reflection of current economic realities in the country characterised low purchasing power of the consumer in the face of high inflation rate, among several other factors.

The experts also argued that most of the prospective exhibitors are companies that are struggling to remain afloat and may therefore not be able to muster the needed logistics and funds to participate in the trade, which is more of promotion and creating awareness than making real sales.

This low turnout contradicts earlier projections by the LCCI that over 200 exhibitors from 16 countries as well as scores of indigenous firms would be participating in the fair with an average of 500, 000 visitors and buyers.

Chairman, Trade Promotion Board of the LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa, had told newsmen penultimate Tuesday in Lagos that countries expected at the fair include would China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Ghana, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Cameroon, Kenya, and Singapore.

Others include countries from the European Union, Republic of Benin, South Africa and Jamaica, which he said had expressed their willingness to participate in the annual fair.

“The 2018 fair would enhance forging of strategic business partnerships, knowledge transfer, jobs creation and trade promotion among the participating indigenous and foreign exhibitors. It is also expected to give participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and showcase their products for maximum exposure”, Idahosa had said.

As part of measures to check noise pollution around the TBS complex venue of the fair, which also houses other business outfits including banks and insurance firms, the LCCI had placed a blanket ban on the use of public address systems by exhibitors and any other person trying to promote his or her products.