The ways in which we shop has changed tremendously.


One major effect the Coronavirus pandemic has had on consumers and merchants is how we conduct our shopping. Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, conducted a survey to assess how consumers and merchants across key segments from groceries to fashion and travel are adapting in these times. The survey was conducted across UAE, KSA, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

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For one, there has been increased anxiety as is displayed by consumers staying away from all retail services except the essential ones. 65% of consumers have been reported going grocery shopping less often.

49% of people have been reported taking public transportation less often. This includes matatus and buses. 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 say that they still pay with cash when using public transport.

The inside of a matatu

Many consumers in Kenya have started shopping online for essentials for the first time. We are now purchasing our vegetables, medicines and toiletries online. Many supermarkets and shops now offer services where they shop and deliver essential items right to the customer’s doorstep. Even our local mama mbogas are offering to deliver our groceries to us. For groceries, 39% of consumers surveyed say that COVID-19 has led to their first online grocery purchase, while 43% have made their first online purchase from pharmacies.

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Food delivery services have been catalyzed especially since our restaurants shut down a few months ago. Our bodaboda riders are proving quite essential as they do our food runs for us. This goes the same for drinks since bars are still closed. Many liquor stores now offer delivery services.

As consumers and merchants focus on safety and hygiene, contactless payments have also increased during the crisis with enabled merchants seeing an 88% growth in contactless usage post-COVID-19. Paying via mobile money has become order of the day. Overall, there has been a shift towards online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments. Cash-only retailers have been negatively impacted and are having to find quick ways to adapt.

53% of shoppers admit to now spending less while out. Spending habits depict that, consumers are increasingly optimizing their trips; 73% buying in bulk, and making lists to avoid impulsive purchases. Buying non-perishable items has become a trend because it ensures fewer trips to the marketplace.

It is vital that merchants, across the globe, understand consumer behaviors and adapt accordingly.


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