Local retailers secured the lion's share Sh429 billion from lenders to open new stores and refurbish outlets amid rising fierce competition including from incoming global brands.
According to the 2018 Economic Survey, the money, representing 21.9 percent of the Sh1.95 trillion total bank funding for the private sector, was advanced to retail chains and wholesale operators in form of commercial bills, loans and advances.
Nakumatt, a once-thriving booming regional operator, is the main victim of the foreign competition, with several prime stores taken over by incomers, French-based Carrefour and South Africa's Shoprite while Tuskys and Naivas took over some locations.
The manufacturing sector, now showing a rebound at 5.1 percent growth, attracted Sh335.1 billion or 17.1 percent allocation.
But agriculture, billed as Kenya's backbone for decades, received a paltry Sh82.3 billion (4.2 percent) indicating a need for banks to innovate new farmer-specific loan products.
Real estate, enjoying new demand in residential properties in urban areas, thanks to devolution and an influx of wealthy foreigners as well as expatriates, attracted Sh368.44 billion (18.8 percent).
A large chunk of loans to the real estate sector was spent in Nairobi where the county government approved development of Sh210 billion projects, creating hundreds of jobs for skilled and unskilled workers as well as new business for construction material dealers, built environment professionals and new revenue streams for the county and national governments.
Building and construction also took up an additional Sh113.7 billion, though this was a marginal 1.8 percent rise compared to the historic 2017 growth of 30.7 percent. The latter was mainly driven by a vibrant real estate that had reported a lot of new business in Nairobi where Sh240 billion worth of projects were approved.