Retailing Environments in Developing Countries

By Allan M. Findlay; Ronan Paddison et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter five

Retailing in northern Nigeria

Patterns of continuity and change

Gina Porter


Nigeria, a country of perhaps 106 million people, exhibits considerable diversity in culture and religion, in levels of development, income and patterns of consumption. These patterns can be related to its somewhat turbulent history, from the early nineteenth century Jihad, which brought Islamic reformation to much of the north, through the great changes induced by colonial conquest and decolonisation, to the Civil War in the late 1960s, subsequent oil boom, and current severe recession. While such seemingly traumatic changes have had varying impact upon the individual regions of the country, the overall forces for change-of one sort or another-have been very considerable. The impact on trade has been enormous.

In this chapter an attempt is made to trace the development of modern retailing patterns in Muslim northern Nigeria. The study is inevitably, in large part, descriptive and impressionistic. There are no detailed official government statistics pertaining to retailing (and such statistical sources are, in any case, usually unreliable). It is, in fact, exceedingly difficult to isolate the retail element from wholesale and middleman activities in a country like Nigeria, because many traders are involved in all these activities and may conduct their diverse operations from a single base (Bauer 1963). 1 The analysis is based on research in Borno, north-eastern Nigeria where surveys of rural periodic markets were conducted and the planning reports which have, from time to time, been commissioned by state governments. The vast majority of such surveys and reports relate to periodic and urban daily markets only; there have been remarkably few attempts to examine either the development, or current characteristics, of other types of retail outlet in Nigeria. The basic data has been supplemented by archival material from colonial records, trading company records, and interviews with senior management in the larger European-style retailing companies. Only a very general impression of


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