Businesses have received a big boost following the review of onset of the curfew hours from 7 to 9pm as President Uhuru Kenyatta relaxed measures aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19.
Businesses such as supermarkets and banks now say that they will extend their working hours to serve more customers following Saturday’s directive.
The initial 7pm to 4am curfew hours imposed in April had complicated the operations of many companies, which had to close earlier to ensure employees and customers got to their home before the dusk deadline.
Retail Traders Association of Kenya (Retrak) chairman Willy Kimani said changing the curfew hours to between 9pm and 4am would allow supermarkets to serve an increased number of customers.
Mr Kimani, who is also the Naivas Supermarkets chief commercial officer, said the supermarket will now adjust its closing hours from the current 5.30pm to 8pm. to give customers more time to shop.
“We have been closing at 5.30pm but we will now take that to 8pm. I believe by extending these hours, we will be able to serve more customers,” said Mr Kimani in a phone interview.
Kenya Bankers Association CEO Habil Olaka said banks would also revert to the traditional closing hours of 4pm in line with the new curfew hours. Banks had adjusted their closing time to 3pm when the curfew was imposed.
“A number of branches were closing earlier to enable staff do end of day work and get home in time. The 9pm means they can now work up to normal time and still get home on time,” said Mr Olaka.
Evening hours are particularly crucial for supermarkets since they are synonymous with high traffic of customers. However, shopping had been impacted as customers rushed so as to be home by 7 p.m.
“Evening period is very crucial for most retailers because many people shop after work. That is when our business usually peaks. But what people have been doing is leave work then rush to catch matatus to home,” said Mr Kimani.
President Kenyatta noted on Saturday that the original curfew hours had made it difficult for businesses to run on full shifts as a result of which their revenues had been hurt.
“This variation should enable Kenyans to have a full work day schedule,” he said while revising the hours.
Most supermarket branches located in Nairobi’s Central Business District have been recording reduced numbers as many employees opt to work from home. Those reporting to work have had to balance between shopping and rushing home.
“Nairobi CBD branches have been the most hit. There has not been enough time to allow for shopping. We are likely to see an improvement,” said Mr Kimani.
Carrefour Kenya supermarket, which has been closing at 8.30pm, has also extended its working hours.
“All our stores will remain open from 8.30 am to 7pm daily as we comply with the new government directives,” the retailer said.
Tuskys Supermarket had in April closed three branches – Tom Mboya (Nairobi), Kitale Mega and Digo Road (Mombasa) due to reduced customers.
The retailer issued pay cut of up to 30 percent, delayed paying suppliers and restructured loans in the wake of cash flow challenges.
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