Excitement over the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer showpiece held in Qatar has this time round been drowned by hard economic times as dealers of electronics, especially television sets, recorded an abnormally low increase in sales compared to other tournament seasons.
Traditionally, there has been a significant surge in TV sales ahead of the once-in-four-years global championships and dealers expected this year’s event to be no exemption. They were looking to capitalise on the fanaticism of soccer enthusiasts to make up for what they termed an “extremely rough year”.
The blowing up of sales was set to be witnessed at least two to three weeks ahead of the kick-off of the World Cup but multiple dealers who spoke to the Business Daily lamented that the market results had fallen short of the heightened expectations they had.
This is despite manufacturers and distributors of TV sets such as Samsung, Sony and LG offering juicy finance schemes alongside introducing new models of big-screen TVs in an attempt to entice sports lovers to buy new units.
Against the background of a myriad of economic pain points for consumers triggered by, among other factors, the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis and a prolonged drought, an economic crisis appears to be in the offing with a huge chunk of the population preferring to cut back on luxurious spending.
Samuel Odhiambo, the head of consumer electronics at Samsung East Africa, told the Business Daily that, unlike past years when his firm would record up to a 30 percent surge in TV sales days to the World Cup tournament, this year they have witnessed only a 10 percent increase.
“This has been generally a difficult year. Prices of basic consumer commodities have hit historic highs and the effects of the pandemic (Covid-19) are still with us. The alteration of the school calendar has also played a role towards this outcome as most parents did not manage to spare extra funds due to the heightened pace to cover lost time,” said Mr Odhiambo.
“Couple that with the fact that this was an election year and then you understand why we are in this situation.”
He, however, notes that there has been a steady trend of consumers leaning more towards smart TVs in recent months underscoring an increased pace of Internet linkage, a departure from the ancient norm where consumers largely bought regular TV sets.
For Samsung, the most widely sold size during the season ranges between 32 to 50 inches and a majority of buyers are men aged 30-45.
“This is the age group with some considerable purchasing power,” says Mr Odhiambo.
The story is not any different for Sony Electronics. An official who did not wish to be named says the dealership has not yet recorded any different sales trend from normal days, expressing optimism that the situation would change before the end of the tournament.
“We are expecting the sales to rise by between 25 and 30 percent during the season. We are primarily banking on the sizes between 40 and 65 inches to drive us to our target,” said the official.
At Naivas Supermarket, Moi Avenue branch, an attendant told the Business Daily that “there has not even been a slight change in TV sales volumes”.
On the flip side, a section of experts attributes the trend to the expansion of Internet coverage arguing that the newly-discovered model of live streaming has eased access to soccer content such that people no longer see the need to purchase fixated devices such as TVs.
Those who cannot access smart devices, the argument goes on, are leveraging displays in public joints such as bars and restaurants.
The tournament, which kicked off on November 20 and has now been on for a week, is set to close on December 18.