Shopping malls pull Kenyans to live in suburbs


NAIROBI, May 13 (Xinhua) — Shopping malls in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, have become a major attraction for people seeking good neighborhoods to live in.

The facilities are drawing people to suburbs where they have been constructed, as Kenyans’ love for shopping and convenient places to hangout grows.

Nearly all suburbs in Nairobi have shopping malls. However, some are smaller than others.

Those malls that are attracting people in droves to the surrounding neighborhoods are those hosting top retail outlets, among other businesses that include eateries, banks, hospitals and fashion stores.

Majority of Kenyans are seeking to get the services under one roof. Some of the malls that are pulling people to neighborhoods they are situated include Maasai Mall in Rongai, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Greenspan and Taj malls on the east of Nairobi and Thika Road Mall.

These malls have a number of businesses that include top supermarkets, entertainment spots for both adults and children and banks.

Benson Sichabi is among city residents who have changed neighborhoods due to convenience that malls offer when it comes to shopping. Sichabi in April moved from Umoja in Nairobi to Savannah, an estate near Greenspan Mall.

“One of the things I considered when I wanted to move out from Umoja was the convenience that I would get when I stay near a shopping mall,” said Sichabi on Monday.

After house-hunting in several neighborhoods, the marketer settled on Savannah, which is few meters from Greenspan mall.

The mall hosts Tuskys supermarket, the second biggest retail outlet in Kenya.

“I have stayed in the new estate for about two months and I can confirm that I am comfortable. In my previous neighborhood, I used to drive to Buru Buru estate for shopping because there was no mall in Umoja,” he said.

Buru Buru has no mall but Sichabi said he would go there because the supermarket is bigger and he would find banking services at about the same place.

“Now I no longer have to worry about driving from one estate to another. The Greenspan mall is about five minutes away from where I live. I can walk or drive,” he said.

The mall’s food courts have turned out to be a perfect place for Sichabi to meet his friends or take his children for dinner or lunch during the weekend.

“The convenience is all I wanted and I am getting it. There is a hospital at the mall and being a young father, this gives me a lot of comfort because in case of emergency, I can dash there and get assistance.”

Another mall pulling city residents to where it is located is Thika Road Mall, along Thika superhighway.

The mall, besides the thoroughfare which has reduced traffic jams, has become one of the reasons people are relocating to estates in the neighborhood.

A visit to the mall, especially during weekends, confirms how popular the shopping facility hosting some of the top shops in Nairobi, including a supermarket, has become.

The mall is always filled with hordes of people, some who have taken their children out.

“Ever since I moved to Kahawa estate in February, I have never taken my family to any other place for shopping. The Thika Road Mall is usually the place I think of when I want to go for shopping. My family and I go there at least once in a month, but I visit the facility several times because this is where I also access banking services,” said David Guchu, who relocated to Kahawa from Langata.

In a survey released early this month, research firm Consumer Insight found out that Kenyans’ love for shopping malls in the continent comes only second to South Africa.

The survey noted that a majority of Kenyans are spending a good amount of their time at the facilities as shopping trends change and consumer spending in the East African nation grows.

“The growing love for shopping malls as a social hangout spot has 77 percent of South Africans confessing to spending their leisure time at malls. Coming in second was Kenya, where 47 percent head to malls whenever free,” said the survey dubbed Africa has finally found true love.

The huge attraction to shopping malls in the East African nation has become the major reason developers are constructing the facilities in various suburbs.

Kenyans love for malls has not declined despite Westgate Shopping Mall having been attacked by terrorists in September last year and threats of terror attacks hanging over the East African nation.

At least 68 people died in the attack that drew global condemnation and proved that Al-Shabaab is a major threat to Kenya.

“I think I did not make a mistake moving to Rongai because I can access at least two malls. And thanks to one of the malls, I can now get banking services even on Sunday,” said government agency worker Stella Ingutia.

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