Supermarkets, retail traders post low sales due to curfew

Friday July 17 2020

Retailers and supermarkets have recorded a drop

Retailers and supermarkets have recorded a drop in sales due to reduced shopping hours. PHOTO | EDGAR R. BATTE 

By Ashita Chopra

Supermarket sales and retail trade, especially in shopping malls, have fallen to the worst levels due to limited shopping hours, according to Knight Frank.

Shopping time, especially within Kampala, has fallen by at least six hours due to the Covid-19 related curfew.
This, according to Knight Frank, has seen a drastic fall in footfalls or traffic into malls of up to 90 per cent thus causing a 25 per cent fall in retail trade.

Speaking during a Zoom meeting in Kampala, Mr Marc Du Toit, the Knight Frank head of retail, said that low footfall has been a major issue, especially for retail and chain traders in malls.

“Retail sales are down as low as 25 per cent due to curfew hours. Shopping hours have fallen by at least six hours per day and most leisure activities such as cinemas, spas and gyms, among others, have remained closed [yet] they are major footfall drivers,” he said.

Uganda, according to Knight Frank, has an average income per capita of $700 per annum, however, much of the country’s footfall is recorded in the metropolitan area with Kampala taking up between 75 per cent and 80 per cent.

Knight Frank also noted that Uganda had, before Covid-19, registered the highest growth in footfall across East Africa but this had fellen by almost 98 per cent during the lockdown and continues to be low due to curfew .
Retail businesses such as Woolworths and supermarkets, whose operations are mainly located in malls and shopping centres, Knight Frank said reported shortened trading and shopping hours as one of the reasons for a drop in their sales.


Mr Brett Exner, the Woolworths real estate manager, said during the meeting that the business had gone through a rough period across East Africa, experiencing a number of ups and downs.

“We have expanded into new malls and because seasonality is key for business, we shall try to push for more sales through offering promotional discount for us to survive post the lockdown,” he said.

Many of the shopping centres, especially in central Kampala remain closed, which has contributed to low aggregate sales in the metropolis.

Trade to recover in November
Mr Everest Kayondo, the Kampala City Traders Association chairman, says that whereas government has partially opened shopping arcades, traders were still facing challenges of accessing their shops due to rent-related disputes and depleted stock.
This, he said, is likely to push recovery of trade to at least November.