Nakuru’s road a pale shadow of its former self as traders scatter

By Roy Lumbe
Friday, February 12th, 2021
Java Nakuru.
In summary

SLUMP: The once busy Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru County is now a shadow of its former self, following the exit of major supermarkets and a food chain along the street, leaving behind shells in retail spaces. 

A number of establishments along the route have been without their primary anchors for months now, with managers reeling from the prospects of folding. 

With the recent exit of Tuskys Supermarket, Choppies – the Botswana-based supermarket chain and Java House at the Central Business District (CBD) is a clear indication that business along the route has slumped.

Supermarkets mostly occupy the largest spaces hence attracting the biggest share of an establishment’s footfall bringing a steady flow of customers and also attract other tenants like small retail outlets.

However, it has become evident that business has gone down and perhaps the hardest hit by the closure are the taxi drivers, Tuk Tuk and boda boda operators. 

Other affected are fruit sellers, parking boys and other small-scale traders who usually hover around the avenue looking for clients entering the three spots. 

The general economic slump occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic has further presented a double tragedy for landlords of malls who now stare at lower-than-average returns.

Peter Kuria, a businessman in Nakuru said the retail sector is yet to move away from its dependence on anchor tenants. 

He said there has been a rise in construction of malls within the county despite facing stiff competition from informal retail spaces who opt to construct stalls attracting small businesses.

Mall owners

“Many mall owners believe that without a supermarket, they won’t have any other traffic for the rest of the businesses.

It’s a tradition that they may not be able to move on from completely, but they need a strategy,” said Kuria.

Following the closure of Tuskys, one cannot help but notice the desolate state that the brand left behind with building managers opting to repaint the store and bringing down its signage. 

Once regarded as the pride of Nakuru, the folding up of the supermarket marked the end of an era for the chain that began in 1985.