The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Businesses Cash In On Christmas Shoppers

AS of yesterday, nearly all major retail stores in Kigali City carried various deals for the last-minute Christmas shoppers, taking advantage of the increase in spending - a habit familiar with festive seasons.

At stores The New Times visited in the Central Business District, the word 'discount' was clearly marked on numerous stalls in addition to other strategies designed to attract more clientele, including raffles.

Nakumatt, one of the big stores in Kigali, introduced a ruffle dubbed "Become a millionaire at Nakumatt", where at least 450 lucky clients win cash prizes ranging from Rwf27, 000 and one million.

They are also offering discounts on electronic equipment; say you could buy a TV set and get a radio receiver as bonus.

Some cosmetics and hygienic items were also on discount.

But many buyers were cautious, according to retailers.

Some shoppers were also not too impressed because there were no discounts on essential products.

"They have introduced discounts on things we don't need a lot. Basic commodities such as sugar and rice remain at their normal prices," said a woman, who was in the company of her four children.

Abdul Nyanziga, another shopper in downtown Kigali, said he had saved up to Frw2 million to buy kitchenware during this season, because he knew there are better deals like discounts and other incentives.

"It is common knowledge that during the festive seasons, major stores offer discount, I want to buy a fridge, microwave and a stove," said Nyanziga, who heads a tourism college in Nyamata, Bugesera district.

Though Nyanziga has saved a lot for the day, and indeed many shoppers were seen lurking through the stalls, the manager of Nakumatt thinks there are not many who did so.

Adan Ramata, the country manager of Kenya's retain Nakumatt, speaking from their store at Kigali City Tower, said, "We did all we could to put people in the Christmas mood, we are now waiting for clients to grab the opportunity with both hands."

A manager at the South Africa-based retail giant, Mr. Price - also at Kigali City Tower - which sells clothes and household items, said, "We are not complaining at all, tomorrow is Christmas and we are receiving many more people than usual."

"People are getting used to our products, while at the beginning they had an impression that our clothes are very expensive, the attitude has changed and we are now experiencing better sales, especially during the festive," he said.

The promotion at Mr. Price necessitates one to spend at least Frw40, 000 to get a voucher with Rwf2, 000 and plus, for more shopping, with a discount of between 5-10 per cent on all their clothes.

At Simba Super Market, another major outlet in CBD, there was a big number of buyers.

However, Justine Ngarambe, a manager at the store, said the number of clients this festive season is lower compared to previous holidays.

"People are saying the economy is not in good shape. All they are buying is foodstuff while in the past, many used to take expensive items like furniture around this time".

She also said the store had introduced "a big discount".

But Noreen Musoke, a shopper who said had spent at least Frw50, 000 on plates and other kitchen items, said even with discount the products were still expensive.

Bata, a famous shoe store, also tried to attract clients with a 20 per cent discount on all their products.

However, the manager, Elijah Kondy Mcinthi, said they received few buyers.

He said, "Well, we are selling but to few people."

"I like shopping around the Christmas period because I expect a discount," Williams Nkusi, who was at the Bata outlet with his wife, told The New Times.

Nkusi said people are spending more wisely today because since January will come with a long list of needs, including school fees, since students return around that time.

Meanwhile, as many traders were cashing in on Christmas fever, more than 20 traders who deal in clothing in the Mateus area in CBD, were having a bad day.

Yesterday morning, the Kiyovu cell executive secretary arrived with security personnel to close the shops because the owners had defaulted on rent for the past four months.

Both sides were locked in discussions aimed at reaching a common understanding for the better part of Monday.

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