Kisumu businesses dump malls on high rents and poor location


Kisumu’s Mega City and Mega Plaza mall. PHOTO | JACOB OWITI | NATION

A majority of businesses in Kisumu are dumping shopping malls for other alternatives citing poor location and sharp rise in rents.

Kisumu has seven malls with Tuff Foam, West End and Lake Basin having opened their doors in the last one year alone.

Traders are, however, vacating some of the premises in droves citing poor access and overpriced rents. In the past two months. At least one supermarket, and a number of retailers have relocated from the newly constructed Tuff Foam mall.

Maisha Matt supermarket, which had rented two floors at the Tuff Foam, relocated its operations to Kakamega barely six months after moving in.
Traders and property developers in the town told the Business Daily that the exit from the malls could also be attributed to their location, which most shoppers are yet to embrace.

The average rent of most of the malls range between Sh60 to Sh120 per square feet for buildings in the central business district.

Tuff Foam, sandwiched between the Mega Plaza and West End Mall, charges around Sh60 per square feet for spaces located on the upper floors of its back end exclusive of value added tax (VAT) and service fees.

Mega Plaza

The rent could, however, be higher for shops on the ground and mezzanine floors, which are prone to huge traffic. The mall has, however, been experiencing low traffic which businesses said could be the reason for the exit.

READ: Kisumu middle class spark rush for shopping malls

“The high rents mean more buildings need to come up,” Mr Israel Agina, chairman of Kisumu Business Community told the Business Daily.
Mega Plaza, previously the most preferred by businesses and the oldest mall in the town, charges about Sh80 per square feet on the lower end, according to a section of tenants at the building.

West End charges between Sh180 to Sh250 per square feet exclusive of VAT and service fees.

The Tuff Foam mall has also witnessed the exit of a boutique, Lynne Beauty Shop which vacated the premises barely five months after moving into the building.

Ms Nishma Karia, proprietor of the Lake Estate Agency, a property consultancy, said the trend could also be as a lack mall shopping culture.

“The other challenge we have witnessed as property developers is that there is low circulation of money in Kisumu unlike in other cities and towns which as a result, affects businesses.

“This of course explains the difficulty that businesses face even as they try to raise capital from their profits to meet the high rents charged by landlords,” she said.

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