Why Ugandans hype shopping sprees during festive season

With so much attention on sales during the festive season, many people spend their savings around this time.

Christmas shopping. Shoppers look at Christmas decorations in downtown Kampala. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI  

BY Christine Kasemiire


Kampala- Year on year, despite outcry of poverty, Ugandans spend chunks of their savings during the festive season and 2017 makes no exception.

In an interview with Daily Monitor, Mr Latif Kizito, a 30-year old tenant of Kamuli village revealed that he buys clothes annually for his family because they (family) want to brag.

The taxi conductor says the least he deserves is to flaunt his success to the people in rural areas.
“People in the village still attach a lot of value to Christmas. Despite poverty, we spare some money to spend during Christmas because we have worked,” he said.

Attributing the word festive to its literal meaning, Mr Kizito understands Christmas as a time to spend money and have fun, with limited attention to saving.

Martha who refused to reveal her surname says she only shops because her husband gets a shopping voucher from Mutesa II Royal University. She sees no value in buying clothes for Christmas but rather food for the family.

While some focus on the superficial side of the celebrations, people from outside Uganda also take part in shopping detours in Kampala.

Despite the hot air in circulation at the Skylight mall in the centre of town, Mr Abishay Shabutwa Di Guy, says he endures the hustle to buy clothes for his little brothers and sisters to celebrate.

“We work hard and save to come and buy and go back to Congo. Much as transport is expensive, the clothes are not expensive and you have good material this side,” he compliments.

The story is similar with Eliza Yom, a South Sudanese student in Uganda whose mum sent her money to buy products. The shoppers appetite to spend on Christmas goodies prompts sellers to counter the demand.

How sellers cope with demand
Saving applies not only to the buyers but also the sellers.

Mr Denis Makanga, a vendor near the Old Taxi Park, says at the start of a new year, he puts aside the first hand clothes that will be sold during Christmas. He reveals that even the bargaining power of customers reduces during festive seasons because people anticipate the inflated prices and save, subsequently doubling his sales.

“While I used to sell 50 pairs of shoes a week before the festive season, I can sell close to 100 during the Christmas week. I put aside good clothes every month to sell during Christmas. I sell these clothes with a small hike in price. A pair of jeans costing Shs15,000 goes for between Shs18,000 and Shs20,000,” he plans.

Ms Christine Namuddu, a salesperson at Skylight Shopping Mall, says due to the anticipated surge in demand during Christmas, they inject more capital into the business.


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