Kenyans sharply cut spending on biting job, income losses

Friday July 10 2020

A waiter serves customers at a city hotel on June 16. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Kenyans spent more in supermarkets and grocery stores and less on entertainment, eating out and fuelling, a new survey of sellers and consumers by Visa has shown.

The survey report Covid-19 CEMEA Impact Tracker released last month by the payments processing firm indicates that the spend on entertainment including cinemas and theatres, events and concerts and staycations has seen a drop of 86 per cent, 78 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

This is a result of the closure of entertainment spots across the country as well as tightening of purse strings by Kenyans as job losses and pay cuts bite.

“In Kenya, spending in grocery stores is up by 20 per cent and by 12 percent in supermarkets,” reads the report.


“Asked about their habits across a range of fields, consumers are increasingly optimising their trips – buying in bulk, making lists to avoid impulsive purchases, and buying no-perishable items to ensure fewer trips.”


The survey further shows there has been a 62 per cent decline in spend at fuel stations and 17 percent drop spend at pharmacies.

The reduction on fuel spent was largely as a result of restrictions on movement in and out of several counties. Some of the restrictions have since been lifted.

Another segment that has been hard hit is the shopping and dining category. Cafes and hotels have seen a 79 per cent spend reduction.

This was partly attributable to the temporary closure of hotels and restaurants in the city and the new social distancing rules that see fewer people dining in a single eatery.

“Consumers are also changing their eating habits. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of Kenyans say they prefer home-cooked food during Covid-19,” states the report.


Spending in fashion stores declined by 78 per cent while that in luxury stores was down by 56 per cent. This is as 69 per cent of Kenyans state that they are shopping for essentials of absolute necessities only.

The report further shows that Kenyans have adopted online shopping for their groceries and switched to mobile payments and card payment as opposed to cash payments.

The survey was conducted in May across seven countries including Kenya alongside Nigeria and South Africa in the EMEA region.  The survey polled 321 consumers in Kenya.