Kisumu’s middle class sparks rush for shopping malls


Contractors want investigative agencies to probe Kisumu County staff they claim are benefitting from tenders at their expense. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kisumu is slowly becoming a hub for shopping malls, thanks to the changing lifestyles of the lakeside town’s residents as devolution creates a new crop of middle class.

In the past year alone, at least three shopping malls — Tuff Foam, West End and Lake Basin — have come up in the town, raising the number to seven.

The older shopping malls — Mega City and Mega Plaza, all which are franchise of Mega Properties — are undergoing expansion to tap demand for shopping space.

To capitalise on the shopping appetite, top brands have opened outlets in the malls, a sign of changing preferences and desire for quality items.

The West End Mall next to the Central Bank of Kenya building on Kenyatta Avenue houses Nairobi Java, Woolworth stores, City Walk, Tac store, Tile Centre, Samsung Shop and Uchumi Supermarket, among others.

The new mall also houses DHL Express and Acacia Hotel, the first four-star in the region.

The Tuff Foam Mall, the second entrant after West End, houses banks, retail shops as well as coffee shops. Some of the banks at the mall include Standard Chartered and the National Bank.

Business leaders and residents attribute the increase in the number of shopping malls to changing lifestyles, especially by the new middle income earners.

Israel Agina, the chairman of the Kisumu business coalition, says the malls provide a variety of services to people at a central place.

“We are living in an era where people now prefer places where they can work, shop and relax at the same time. The shopping malls offer that. Most now host offices, food courts and supermarkets which are at convenient and same places ” he told the Business Daily.

Mr Agina says matters have also improved with the coming of the devolved system of government which he says has brought services and funds closer to the people.

Peter Ayueyo, an accountant, says that unlike standalone shops the malls are convenient for people with families because some have playgrounds for children.

“This means that during the weekend, I can easily take my family to town and while I visit a barber, my wife would also be at the salon while the children have fun on the jumping castles or just playing around. You also find it convenient to shop before heading home,” he said.

Older malls in the area include United Mall on the Kisumu-Kakamega road and Swan Centre on Oginga Odinga Street.

Mega City in the outskirts of the town and Mega Plaza on Oginga Odinga Street are also undergoing renovations and expansions to tap into the growing demand for spaces.

In the new design, according to Mega Properties management, Mega Plaza will have two new towers, one comprising 16 storeys and the other 17 storeys. It will be accessed through eight lifts and two travelletors on the ground floor.

“The mall being the heartbeat of the lakeside city for commercial activities offer a wide variety of services mainly in retail, information and communication bureau, banking, insurance, health and beauty and hospitality amongst others,” says the property manager.

The new building is also expected to encompass four distinct blocks and the middle foyer. This, the management says, will ensure additional car parking facilities on the first, second and third floors totaling to a maximum of 400 cars.

Mega City will have additional shopping space for tenants.