Makeup, clothing, alcohol sales shattered under pandemic: Survey

The sale of beauty products, clothes and alcohol was the worst hit under the COVID-19 pandemic as Kenyans trimmed their discretionary spending following the entry of local infections in March last year.

This is according to a new survey by KASI Insights in collaboration with the Kenya Business Guide (KBG) conducted across 2020 and covering a sample size of 5,434 individuals.

“At the initial stages of the pandemic, households drastically reduced their expenditure on discretionary goods as they faced uncertainty about their livelihoods and incomes,” notes the survey.

Kenyans for instance abandoned the purchase of beauty products to a near nil position in addition to alcoholic beverages, electronics confectionery and snacks.

On the contrary, staples such as bread and rice remained as part of essential purchases alongside groceries, personal hygiene & cleaning products and airtime.

At the same time, the survey established Kenyans turned to bulk buying largely as means to reduce on shipping frequency.

28 per cent of Kenyans now cite their preference to bulk purchases while another 15 per cent of respondents have indicated that they cut down the number of trips to grocery stores.

Nevertheless, the survey has revealed an ongoing reversal of consumer spending habits to pre-COVID-19 levels as the household share on non-discretionary spending begins to rise again as of December last year.

The composition of households’ wallets is however still in favor of essential goods though at a lesser degree to that registered in April last year.

Moreover and contrary to global trends, Kenya’s e-commerce sector has failed to puck up during the pandemic with the number of Kenyans indicating their deployment of online grocery shopping at an average of five per cent even at the peak of the pandemic.

Kenya Business Guide economist Titus Maina expects consumer spending habits to pick up this year supported largely by a lift of COVID-19 related restrictions which have kick-started enterprise and personal income growth.

“With the opening up of the economy and resumption of activity and mobility we believe that there will be more income being earned and hence a modest rebound of non-essential spending, he said.

“Consumer spending over the next 12 months will increase substantially as compared with 2020. We expect the increasing economic activity to boost incomes and income-generating opportunities and this will translate to higher consumer spending relative to 2020.”

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