Clues for shopping smart and saving big

Wednesday September 4 2013

A young lady shopping for a bag. Youths are in touch with the latest global lifestyle trends, which cost them a lot. PHOTO|FILE

A young lady shopping for a bag. Youths are in touch with the latest global lifestyle trends, which cost them a lot. PHOTO|FILE NATION

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Grace Njeru, a student at the University of Nairobi, loves shopping. She spends over Sh30,000 every month on purchases.

She does not work, so she relies on her parents and boyfriend to fund her splurges.

She is not alone. The student is among many Kenyans who have turned shopping into a hobby, although they hardly know where to shop, how to shop, and why to shop, thereby negatively impacting their finances.

“I mostly buy clothes on a weekly basis, edibles from the supermarket on a daily basis, and get movies every other day from the supermarket,” Ms Njeru told Money.

Adding: “In a day, I can have about Sh4,000 and use it all for shopping. My shopping sprees have to cater for at least three expensive chocolate bars and a bottle of wine.”

A report recently released by Consumer Insight cites the youth as high rollers with a spending power of Sh262.64 billion annually.

According to Consumer Insight manager Ndirangu wa Maina, 77 per cent of the youth are still dependent on their guardians while 33 per cent find alternative sources of income and are independent.

Fiscal anxiety

“Youths are in touch with the latest global lifestyle trends, which cost them a lot,” Mr Maina said. “This is attributed to television and the internet, which rule the lives of the youth.”

Youth shopping trends reflect those of many working class Kenyans who find smart shopping a challenge because they do not plan.

Personal finance adviser Patrick Wameyo believes that when the end of the month approaches, most people think about money.

They plan how to spend it, lament about the lack of it, or just stare blankly at their earnings.

Either way, this anxiety leads us to shop in order to face the next month. However, quite often we do not know that we could save a fortune by shopping the smart way.

Factors such as location of the shopping centre, quality of goods, a shopping list, and frequency of shopping expeditions if taken into consideration could go a long to saving.

But some experts argue that this has nothing to do with an individual’s shopping habits.

“It is important to know that shopping behaviour has nothing to do with geography.

Retail stores and small shops are set up in response to demand for certain goods,” Mr Wameyo said.

He notes that when you find shopkeepers selling some goods at high prices, it is because of the shopping trends of most low-income earners in Kenya.

Interestingly, the high prices do not stop people from buying from those shops. “Most Kenyans have not put themselves on a scale of having monetary problems that affect their spending.

They are default shoppers and do not know that is the reason they buy less goods with more money,” Mr Wameyo said.

Ms Elizabeth Gathoni, a marketer, concurs. She makes a list every month and shops in the supermarket either in town or around her neighbourhood.

She believes that she has to buy milk and bread daily from the local kiosk although the prices are higher than at the supermarket.

“I use about Sh4,000 monthly on groceries. I normally exclude milk, bread, and vegetables from my list,” said Ms Gathoni, “I am an impulse buyer, though, so I buy many other things in between, including milk and vegetables, on a daily basis and that could cost me about Sh10,000 or more.”

Most men interviewed by Money, however, had different shopping habits. They like shopping in bulk and restrict themselves to set priorities.

Mr Fred Ochieng, for instance, buys goods from a shopping mall near his home in Ruaraka because it is convenient and affordable.

“I usually avoid shopping in town because I do not have a car and the luggage would be too much for me to carry,” he said. “This is despite the numerous affordable goods that one can find in town.”

He likes buying his supplies from a particular store in his Ruaraka neighbourhood “Goods in the store are usually cheaper than other supermarkets by at least Sh5.

If you buy things in bulk on a monthly basis, you end up saving a lot of money, say Sh2,000. The store is only about 200 metres from where I live, so it is convenient.

I buy vegetables from wholesale markets such as Marikiti or Gikomba. The vegetables there affordable and fresh.”

Shopping in groups

Consumer Insight boss brings to the fore an ignored shopping trend from a research done last year showing that supermarkets are slowly edging out kiosks.

Sixty-six per cent of Kenyans admit that they shop at least once a week in a supermarket.

They are motivated by convenience, lower prices, and availability of appealing and durable facilities at the supermarkets.

The study also reveals that low-income shoppers shop alone while their better-off compatriots prefer shopping in groups — either with family or helpers.

The survey shows that the most common impulse purchases are snacks (mostly biscuits) and drinks.

“This might imply that Kenyans shop while hungry,” Mr Maina told Money.

Experts recommend that you have a light meal or snack with fibre and protein before you go shopping in order to avoid impulse buying.