MARKET TRENDS

69% of consumers visiting shops for essentials in Covid era – study

53% of consumers spending less

In Summary

•Overall, the report points to a shift towards online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments.

•65 per cent of consumers polled reported going grocery shopping less often, while 49 per cent reported taking public transportation less often.

A general view shows customers shopping for essential commodities at a Naivas Supermarket, as residents stock their homes amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus in Nairobi, Kenya March 23, 2020. REUTERS
Supermarket A general view shows customers shopping for essential commodities at a Naivas Supermarket, as residents stock their homes amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus in Nairobi, Kenya March 23, 2020. REUTERS
Image: Reuters

Majority of Kenyan consumers (69 per cent) visit shops for essentials during this Covid-19 pandemic, a survey by global digital payment firm-Visa has revealed.

About 30 per cent still use cash on public transport.

This is captured under Visa's “Covid-19 CEMEA Impact Tracker”, which highlights the recent effect the novel coronavirus pandemic has had on commerce for consumers and small merchants in Kenya.

The study finds consumers are considerably more cautious with 69 per cent avoiding rush hour.

The findings of the report highlight increased anxiety with consumers staying away from all but essential retail.

65 per cent of consumers polled reported going grocery shopping less often, while 49 per cent reported taking public transportation less often.

The impact of the pandemic still hasn’t made a big impact on transactions on public transport as nearly a third of the surveyed consumers saying that they still pay with cash when using public transport.

During the pandemic, many consumers in Kenya have started shopping online for the first time for essentials.

39 per cent of consumers surveyed say that Covid-19 has led to their first online grocery purchase, while 43 per cent have made their first online purchase from pharmacies.

Overall, the report points to a shift towards online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments.

The study also found current conditions have served as a catalyst for food delivery services as 42 per cent of consumers polled said that they made their food delivery purchase.

As consumers and merchants focus on safety and hygiene, contactless payments have also increased during the crisis with enabled merchants seeing an 88 per cent growth in contactless usage post-Covid-19.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Corine Mbiaketcha, General Manager for East Africa at Visa said: “The pandemic is impacting business everywhere. The findings suggest shoppers have changed how they shop and this is already having a major impact on how merchants do business.”

As consumers adapt to the current restrictions, many have changed how they shop and turned to online outlets for their shopping, Mbiaketcha noted.

These changes present challenges but also enormous opportunities for all merchants, including small businesses.”

According to the report, 53 per cent of consumers admit to now spending less while also highlighting a trend that suggests shoppers have transformed how they shop.

Asked about spending habits, consumers are increasingly optimizing their trips –73 per cent buying in bulk, making lists to avoid impulsive purchases, and buying non-perishable items to ensure fewer trips.

The report notes merchants who have moved online and adopted contactless payment systems have been able to better weather the adversity, with cash-only retailers most negatively impacted.

It is vital that merchants, across the globe, understand consumer behaviors and adapt accordingly - eCommerce and digital solutions will undoubtedly enable growth,” Mbiaketcha said.

The firm has affirmed its committed to support merchants, saying it recognises that many small businesses have been most adversely affected by the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Visa launched an initiative dubbed 'Where You Shop Matters’ , to champion and enable entrepreneurs in Kenya, while encouraging consumers to support small businesses.

It is also supporting small businesses through the Visa Small Business Hub, a merchant platform providing tools and information on how to start, run and grow small businesses.

The platform will also feature leading merchants who embody the passion and entrepreneurship of small businesses across Kenya.

From eCommerce to security, our “Where You Shop Matters” initiative aims to help support them and champion the local small businesses that serve as the backbone of our communities,” Mbiaketcha said.

To understand the needs of small businesses, Visa conducted a survey to assess how consumers and merchants are adapting to Covid-19.

The survey was conducted across UAE, KSA, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

The methodology consisted of a combination of online, telephonic and offline interviews with consumers and merchants across key segments from groceries to fashion and travel.

VisaNet provides payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second.