24 hour supermarket began in East Africa with Nakumatt Ukay a Nakumatt Supermarket

Nakumatt Ukay & 24 Hour Supermarkets in East Africa

Here is a list of 24-hour Nakumatt Supermarket stores across East Africa.

Nakumatt Supermarket 24-Hour Branches

  • Kenya
    • Nairobi
      • Mega
      • Ukay
      • Moi Avenue

      Nakumatt Prestige used to open 24 hours a day but now opens 8:00 am-10:00 pm (Mondays- Saturdays) and 8:30 am-10:00pm. (Sundays and public holidays)


    Nakumatt Ukay Becomes East Africa’s First 24-Hour Supermarket

    It’s been over 8 years since Nakumatt Ukay became Nairobi and East Africa’s first 24-hour supermarket. 24-hour shopping is now an everyday thing with several Nakumatt Supermarket stores across the region open all day and all night. How has the phenomenon of the 24-hour supermarket affected you?

    (In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, read Breastfeeding: Give Breast Milk to Newborns in the First Hour of Life for Full Benefits of Breastfeeding to find out more about the importance of beginning breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.)

    For me, let me just come right out and say it: I love being able to shop whenever I want as the need arises. Being a very nocturnal person, you can often find me at Nakumatt Prestige or Nakumatt Ukay doing seemingly weird things at seemingly odd hours. Yes, I think there is no better time to check out shoes or shop for laptop bags than when you are done with absolutely everything else you need to do for the day but aren’t feeling sleepy yet (understand: around midnight). I definitely feel that this round-the-clock availability has helped me be a lot more productive than I would be if all I could do late at night was hang out or flip through television channels (I don’t really like to watch TV).

    (Speaking of TV, are you a fan of HISTORY®? If so, have you heard about the new programs they will be adding to their lineup soon? Read more about that in HISTORY® (Dstv 186) To Air Black Sails Season 2 & Other New Programs in May and Barbarians Rising: HISTORY® Soon to Air a Series About the Fall of the Roman Empire.)

    How I Reacted to the Advent of 24-Hour Shopping in East Africa

    When Nakumatt Prestige and Nakumatt Ukay first started opening 24 hours a day, of course this was big news. I took advantage of these longer hours as often as possible—just because I could. After a while, though, it became normal and I didn’t really give it much thought.

    When I stopped by Fone Xpress at Nakumatt Prestige, past midnight one night, to help a friend buy a phone a few hours before he flew out of the country, it hit me all over again: Nakumatt Supermarket having several stores across the region that open 24 hours a day (which encourages other stores housed in the same shopping complexes to do the same) is bound to have made a real difference in the lives of East Africans. We may take it for granted, but I don’t think society can remain same old, same old despite this phenomenon.

    Question: Almost a decade down the line, how has your life been affected by the phenomenon of the 24-hr supermarket? Has your life changed at all? If so, has the change been positive or has it been negative? Did Nakumatt Supermarket do a good thing by giving us the possibility of being able to shop whenever we want?

    The Cons of Opening 24 Hours a Day

    When I was younger, while studying at a North American University, I remember coming home for the summer and, with my friends, commenting about a business that we found closed in the middle of the day. Our first reaction was to bash the business and the work ethic of Africans in general, but further reflection led me to conclude that not having businesses open all the time was a price I was willing to pay, as a customer, to live in a world that moved at a more leisurely pace (a pace that I think allows for people’s emotional and spiritual well-being) as well as one that has many opportunities for rich, warm social interactions.

    As much as I love that I can keep running errands until late into the night nowadays, I wonder if, in the long run, this won’t eat away at the social fabric of our society because, now, instead of sitting together and bonding over our experiences, we might be working late to provide these late-night services or feel obliged to take advantage of them since, after all, aren’t we slowly (but surely) becoming a society obsessed with maximizing productivity?

    Trust me, I am not in any way saying that such thoughts detract from the pleasure I experience by being able to shop whenever I want, but I just couldn’t help but consider the possible future consequences of this seeming Godsend.

    (Speaking of Godsends, do you plan on using Uber to ferry you around this holiday season? If so, do you worry that you may not be able to get an Uber when you need it most because of increased demand? Uber has already thought about that. Read more about their solution to the problem in Uber, the Holiday Season, and Dynamic Pricing.)

    What Do You Think?

    I’d love to hear what you have to say. How has the phenomenon of the 24-hour supermarket affected your life? Do you think this phenomenon is a move in the right direction for society? Or rather, one in the wrong direction? Let me know in the comments section below.

    Until the next time,
    Biche

    Photo Credits: smashingmagazine.com

22 thoughts on “Nakumatt Ukay & 24 Hour Supermarkets in East Africa”

  1. Hi Biche, I also love this Nakumatt 24 concept. Ukay is now very lively at night. Apart from new phones, you can even get new tyres at 3 am. I was just wondering: we shoppers may love it, but what about the staff working in this 24 h stores? Are they happy about the concept as well?
    BTW, what happened to Modern Green Day & Night? They were the pioneers in embracing the 24 h concept.

  2. Hey biche,
    Ive been an avid reader of your blog and its given me insight on several products,thanks!
    Am planning on visiting dar es salaam soon and i was hoping you would advise on some good budget hotels,places to visit,activities one would do and clubs.
    Your assistance will be highly appreciated.
    Gakii.

  3. Hi Rafiki,

    Modern Green Day & Night? Where was that? I’ve never heard of them before. Any Nakumatt employees reading this? Would you like to tell us how this 24 hour availability is affecting you? Is this something that you like and are happy with?

    Rafiki, this weekend, I was talking to a branch manager for DTB (Diamond Trust Bank) in Kampala and asking him about how staff was handling their new longer hours (Their Kikuubo branch is now open every day from 8am to 8pm, except for Sunday when they are open until 3pm). He told me that they were pretty cool about it and that the way schedules were being handled is that staff work for 3 days, followed by 3 days off, and so on and so forth. I guess this kind of arrangement can compensate for very long hours. What do you think?

    Biche

  4. Hi Gakii,

    Welcome to ChickAboutTown!

    Unfortunately, I feel not up to the task of giving you an adequate response to your query (I am still at too early a stage of my discovery of Dar-es-Salaam to be of much use to you). There are a few readers on here though that I think might be able to help. Fake Expatriate, are you reading this?

    If I were in your shoes, I would turn to The Rough Guide to Tanzania to find information about accomodation in Dar and what to do while there. I’ve used my copy quite a bit for both Arusha and Dar and have been really happy with the results. (I would share some of the info listed for Dar, but alas, I don’t have my copy with me.)

    Sorry that I can’t be of more help to you! 🙁

    Biche

  5. Biche, Modern Green Day & Night used to be a notorious joint in River Road (Latema Rd), it used to be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for almost 40 years!
    The DTB arrangement looks like a good one, I could live which such an arrangement myself: lots of days off, and less traffic jam problems.

  6. Rafiki –

    Thanks for sharing about Modern Green Day & Night. Latema Road? That should be near Akamba, no? Wow – 40 years! They were really ahead of their time. And they were a fully fledged supermarket? I wonder whatever happened to them. Any clue, anyone?

    Biche

  7. Biche, Modern Green is a bar, having a notorious but ‘romantic’ reputation greater than it’s pioneering 24-hr status! Ahhh, memories…

    I believe it’s still open. If not…sadness.

    My interest in 24-hr shopping in Kenya is academic, I’m fascinated that there’s enough sales traffic to justify the stores being open. It may be a great convenience for us shoppers, but we all know businesses ultimately could care less about that. I wish I could find some reputable source to see how profitable these joints really are.

    I’m surprised that no one ever writes about the safety factor of night-time shopping. Are these places in locations that are heavily-guarded and/or -gated? Even then, do people actually feel safe; and if so, what are the stores doing to gain such confidence?

    1. Hi E-Nyce,

      Welcome to ChickAboutTown!

      Hmmm…does everyone know about Modern Green but me? I need to find out more if it still exists! 🙂

      About the success of Nakumatt’s 24-hr service, I think it’s safe to say that the concept is succesful for them too in terms of sales. After all, why expand the service to 7 stores over a year and a half if the business of it didn’t make sense? That would be highly unlikely. While searching for some reliable information related to the issues you raised in your comment I found this article that I think you might find interesting.

      It’s funny that you raise the issue of security during Nakumatt’s late night hours – I had never given it a thought. I guess it’s just that Nakumatt stores are built in such a way that it’s hard to question their security. For instance, they are usually located in pretty huge complexes which are well-guarded themselves. Take for instance Nakumatt Ngong Road, which is located in Prestige Plaza. Prestige Plaza is a huge 3-floor (I think) complex that only has two 2-car gates one of which is closed at night. The rest of the complex is surrounded by a metal grill wall which is pretty much impenetrable save for a small pedestrian entrance. At each gate, cars must slow down and interact with a guard. Several guards can also be found in the parking lot area as well as other locations in the complex. Beyond this, I also trust that Nakumatt, or the complexes their stores are located in, subscribes to security services which would deal with any security breach that could arise within minutes.

      I am not sure I am doing a good job of putting in words what I am trying to say, so let me try another way. From the way you write, I deduce that you are not currently living in Nairobi. Is that a correct deduction? If so, the best way I can put it across to you is: Nakumatt stores are usually located in huge malls so just as you never (or rarely) worry about security at malls elsewhere is exactly how safety feels like at Nakumatt. Do you get what I am trying to say?

      Yes, there could be a breach in security during Nakumatt’s late night hours, but it would have to be a pretty major operation. Does anyone else have anything to say about this?

      Biche

  8. Thanks, Biche, for the greeting. I discovered your blog some weeks ago. I find your entries to be very fascinating. I’ve been lurking until recently, then saw the post about Modern Green, so just had to respond.

    Under my alias, I am a semi-frequent (and some would say ‘notorious’!) contributor to other Kenyan & African blogs, and hope to soon have my own.

    I don’t live in Nairobi now but that might change in a few months. I have lived in Kenya before, as you can determine from my contribs on other blogs.

    On to Nakumatt… It just so happens that I know exactly where Prestige Plaza is, although I haven’t shopped there. If the other Nakumatts are similar to that location, I now understand how good security can be maintained.

    In terms of their success of 24-hr operations, I’m glad Nakumatt found the right combination of locations to expand hours. Thanks for the article, it helped develop a few ideas about why this concept works in Kenya. I’m no expert (although I am a business analyst) I can think of several scenarios why a business would go with 24-hr operations, but not necessarily worry about growth of sales. This is not banks’s blog, so I’ll just present one. It comes from our (US) all-night supermarkets: that the daily amount of sales flow is spread out over a 24-hr period as opposed to e.g. just 16. In this, the biz isn’t actually losing sales (and maybe not even gaining any), just spreading it out. The overhead costs, like electricity and a few extra staff, must be justifiable. (In fact, many businesses over here do their inventory, stocking and cleaning at night anyway, so why not stay open for business also.) Any ‘extra’ business (sales above average daily flow) is bonus, but that ‘extra’ can occur during day or night time.

    Could go on talking about this more, but this is not a financial blog.

    I do have a request–if you’re taking them!–for your review. As an expat, have you had experience with private doctors? If so, or if your acquaintances have, could you post something about them. I know this is tricky as you probably can’t list doctors’ names–I’m not asking for that. I’m mostly interested in the experiences people have had with them. For example, is it better for expats to get their medical care thru a major hospital than with private practitioners?

    Cheers.

    1. Hi E-Nyce,

      I am glad then that you graduated from lurking to commenting on ChickAboutTown (though for all you lurkers out there, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with lurking :-)) I haven’t seen you around the blogosphere, but I will definitely watch out for you from now on! Please do give us one more interesting local content blog to read. What’s holding you back?! 🙂

      About Nakumatt sales and the theory that you advance, I am having a little difficulty wrapping my mind around it. It seems to me that the overheads involved with having stores open round-the-clock are not so minimal and if it were not a profitable endeavor, at least in the long term, then why bother to do this, especially for several stores? When I lived in Canada, I lived close to a grocery store (part of a major chain) that remained opened until 2am. That’s a weird closing hour. I am pretty sure the reason the store did this was because it couldn’t justify the costs of operation for the rest of the night-time hours (2am-8am) in terms of profit.

      Also, in December 2007 I believe, after Nakumatt opened its first 24-hr branches, some branches were open round-the-clock while others only had extended hours of operation (until 10pm) during the holiday season. If there was no serious cost/benefit analysis required to make a branch 24-hr, then why would Nakumatt bother to differentiate between stores that stayed open all night and those that only opened later than usual? (I am definitely not an expert here, so please take all discussion as just throwing around ideas. Feel free to school me if need be. :-)) Whatever the case, I will definitely watch out for more information on this subject and share whatever I come across. (Is anyone from Nakumatt reading this? Can you shed some light on this topic?)

      About your request regarding doctors – please don’t hesitate to put forth a request (keeping in my mind that I reserve the right to honor the request or not. :-)). Requests are always welcome and I will honor them as I can (your request has been duly noted :-)). To share my experience, I have had little experience with private doctors in Nairobi (though I’ve had some). In my experience, private doctors in Kenya are so over extended serving in different capacities (at different hospitals, teaching, etc..) and this has led to my not-so-pleasant experience with them (I once waited 6 hours to see a particular private doctor).

      My experience with major hospitals has not been positive either, with appointment times not being respected, services being overpriced, and the doctor requesting what I thought were unnecessary visits. (I hear that this practice is common for patients with medical cover because there is no shortage of money where they are coming from.)

      The solution for me has been to deal with my medical care through Nairobi Women’s Hospital (I don’t know whether or not you would count that as a major hospital – I don’t) which operates a lot like a clinic. It’s open 24-hrs a day and for the most part, I know that I can be seen within an hour of dropping in – that includes all lab tests necessary as well as the purchasing of medicine (because they have a pharmacy and medical lab on the spot). The service is fast and inexpensive (and friendly). In fact, for most of the time that I was eligible for medical cover, I didn’t even use it at Nairobi Women’s Hospital, because the cost of medical treatment did not justify the trouble of my claiming the amount back from my employers.

      My disclaimer is: during the 6 years that I have been going there, I have never had a major illnesses (Thank God!), so it’s not been worth my inconvenience to line up to see one of the more reputable doctors that practice at Nairobi’s major hospitals. If I were to find myself with a serious illness, though, I imagine that I might find myself at one of Nairobi’s major hospitals once more.

      That’s what I have to share, off the cuff. I am not sure what other expatriates have to say. Anyone have anything to share while I do some research in hopes of fulfilling E-Nyce’s request?

      Biche

  9. First, a post…to express my wish of blessings and peace upon the victims of the Nakumatt Downtown and Molo oil-spill fires, and my sincerest condolences to their family and friends who will miss them greatly. May the cosmic collective we call by many names, one being ‘God’, guide their souls to happiness on their next spiritual journey.

    1. Hi E-Nyce,

      Thanks for sharing your wishes of blessing and peace. Both of these occurrences were tragic, and yes, may God take care of all that lost their lives, those who were injured, and those that lost loved ones in both incidents. I was reading an article on KenyaImagine recently written by someone who lost a friend in the Nakumatt fire and truly it brought the experience so close to home!

      About store hours in Zürich, what a strange regulation! I would never expect that from any city in Europe. Those are pretty restrictive hours. But then, I can understand why a city would take such a stand. It’s all about keeping the pace of life human and not machine-like!

      As for Nairobi Women’s Hospital, I’ve taken a male friend there before, and there seemed to be no problem. I’ve also seen other men there waiting to consult a doctor. Granted, it’s a rare occurrence. I am really not sure what the official policy of the hospital is. Maybe check out their website to find out more.

      Thanks for coming back to ChickAboutTown to continue the conversation.

      I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

      Biche

  10. Just to sum up our discussion above, Biche you already have it figured out why these stores stay open 24-hrs or with extended time: as you saw in Canada, store owners have analyzed and calculated just the right time for operating hours based on overhead vs. profit (or more accurately, benefit), even if it’s a seemingly weird closing time like 2am. Remember, there are factors, other than having shoppers, which might be favorable for the stores, such as doing the stocking or inventory or cleaning during late night hours.

    To some, it may seem expensive to “keep the lights on all night", but we well know that these stores wouldn’t be open so late if there wasn’t a benefit—to them—to do so. The businesses might pitch it to us that they extended the hours for our pleasure and convenience, but we know better.

    Just a funny side note…I lived in Zurich for a time, and there—BY LAW—the shops must close by 8:30 pm Mon-Fri, 4:30pm on Saturdays, and absolutely, positively, canNOT be open on Sundays! With a few exceptions. Such as the quickie mart that was 2 blocks from my first apartment, since it was connected to a gas, er, petrol station, it could legally stay open 24-hrs. Many a time I would go there between 9-11pm and often there would be a queue of easily 10 people. (Man, I loved that store! Even at night, they had fresh baked bread straight out of a compact oven.)

    When I asked Swiss why don’t they just allow stores to have extended hours (hey, what if I run out of TP at 8:40pm, am I stuck until the next day?? ), most responses were that it would be unfair for employees to work longer than 8-9 hours per day. Sure I could understand this, but haven’t they heard of…shifts?

    Thanks for the doctors’ advice. Maybe strange question: does Nairobi Women’s Hospital accept male patients?

  11. @E-Nyce,

    Yes they accept all patients.

    Dear Biche….it would surprise me if the nakumatt employees would have time to roam around the blogosphere. Who would serve you at midnight 😉

    The issue of security while late night shopping: I have never felt more secure; and love the solitude and lack of bustle.

    Back to said medical care in Kenya. The medical fraternity does need a complete overhaul but our major hospitals and private practice are still pretty good.

    1. Hi John John,

      Kwanza, welcome to Chick About Town! You literally made me laugh out loud with your comment about service at midnight. LOL…still laughing! 🙂

      Thanks for answering E-Nyce’s question about Nairobi Women’s Hospital. Now that I live in Dar es Salaam, I take back everything negative I ever said about the medical fraternity in Nairobi. Wololo, the situation here is a WHOLE other story! I know we live by the grace of God everywhere in the world, but here, we do so mob mob. 8-/

      Do you still feel safe at malls in Nairobi after the whole Westgate incident? I have to say that when I am in the supermarket nowadays, I often stop to consider: what would I do if such a thing broke out while I was shopping?

      Scary thought!

      Biche

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