Personal Finance

The illogical buying season here again

This is the season when logic  takes leave with outlets taking full advantage. FILE PHOTO | NMG
This is the season when logic takes leave with outlets taking full advantage. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It’s that time of the year again when all logic goes out of the window. Buyers brazenly binge and shrewd sellers squeal. Buyers binge for no other reason other than they believe they should. (Let me know if you have a dissenting opinion). And sellers squeal with delight at this inevitable bumper sale annual ritual.

And it’s not just a Kenyan custom. A fellow columnist in the Sunday Nation reported that in UK parents anticipate to spend £400 (about Sh55,000) per child this festive season and in Germany malls are investing up to €24m (about Sh3 billion) to attract buyers (shoppers). Malls locally will be just as attractively adorned. With such (I’d like to believe) informed huge investment in decorations, one can only imagine the anticipated sales.

Here, a hitherto struggling and straggling supermarket chain has, almost seemingly by the so-called Christmas magic, found its way out of the struggle and is now fully stocked. One simply must commend the timing. Yes. Shrewd sellers are keenly aware of the illogical festive season spending.

If still in doubt that our (purchasing) minds take leave of absence starting next week, here’s a classic gem: Did you know that several parents have been up in arms that Education secretary Fred Matiang’i announced Standard Eight and Form Four exam results, plus Form One selections, too early for their liking? “Sasa, Christmas tutakula nini? Angetangaza next year kama zamani” (Why did he release the national exam results and school admissions before Christmas? Now money that should have been spent for Christmas will be forced to go to schooling?)

Note the choice of words-”forced to”. And here’s the clincher; before, when the results used to be released after Christmas, the lamentation was, “Sasa, tumesafiri na tumekula Christmas, hakuna pesa ya kupeleka watoto shule” (Now that results have been released after Christmas, we don’t have money for back to school shopping). Do you find that reasoning warped? Well, welcome to the selling environment that is the festive season. In this environment you will see Kenyans binging in a pub lamenting how financially difficult the year has been and using this as the reason (excuse?) to imbibe that bit more. “We are just drinking away the difficult year”


As is custom, financial experts will cover acres of blog and print space and shout from the rooftops-”Exercise caution in spending this festive season; you are not exempted from your non-festive obligations such as back to school shopping and utility payments simply because it’s Christmas time.”

Human resource personnel will send out cautionary emails to all staff with links from said blogs stating: “December salaries will be paid early. You are reminded to spend wisely this festive season. The next salary will be 45 days from now.” Will the staff take heed and adjust their spending habits this year? I’m not holding my breath.

Stay safe as you enjoy this season of festivities.