A visit to Tuskys, Naivas or Uchumi leaves no doubt that food is the new cash cow. Supermarkets’ cooked food attracts hordes of mostly young consumers. In one supermarket, there are queues as early as 10am. We cook the foodstuff we buy from the supermarket, so why not have it cooked for us to save time? Young men and women are more conscious of time and want to save. Clearly, supermarkets are becoming hotels’ biggest headache. And fast too.
Supermarkets are behind petrol stations, which realised that as a car ‘drinks’ fuel, its owner can also drink soda, juice, or just snack on something. Supermarkets will guarantee quality because of their brand and quality controls. Proximity to work places and low prices are other attractions. But economics also supports the shift to food. Its elasticity is low, meaning that a rise in prices rarely makes us eat less. Low elasticity ensures the supermarkets have a steady stream of income. This might explain why lots of hotels are coming up in Nairobi and in the counties. Food is a necessity; and most alcoholic drinks are addictive and, therefore, inelastic.
Valuing time is a characteristic of modernity. You also have to worry about storage and wastage. In the long run, eating cooked food may be cheaper. Have consumers figured this out? It is no wonder the popularity of food in supermarkets is going hand in hand with the rise in fast food outlets. You can now have food delivered to your house.