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Debt ridden shoppers seek entertainment at malls

Dec 20 2016 15:30

Cape Town - South Africans will favour the shopping centres that can offer them an entertaining and enjoyable holiday shopping experience this festive season, according to Ulana van Biljon, chief operating officer of JSE-listed real estate investment trust (Reit) Emira Property Fund.

Van Biljon noted that consumer spend is under pressure, and mounting. There is also more competition for retail spend in the market than ever before, with 2016 seeing the opening of new shopping centres and the expansion of others.

She explained that shopping centres are also seen as places of free entertainment.

“People want to have a shopping experience or “shoppertainment” as it is sometimes called. Larger malls with more entertainment choices should have more visitors. However, this won’t necessarily translate to bigger increases in sales figures. Large regional and super-regional malls also offer more variety and comparative shopping.

"Pop-up stores are, for example, a trendy new tool to create added excitement and appeal and activate any vacancies.”

Although many Gauteng residents usually leave for the coast during the holidays, Van Biljon pointed out that higher travelling costs result in fewer people going away. She, therefore, thinks this year Gauteng’s shopping centres could benefit from this trend as shopping becomes a form of entertainment for those who remain at home.

READ: SA retail conditions set to improve in 2017 - report

“Food and drink, value clothing, toys and sporting goods are likely to dominate festive spend this year,” said Van Biljon. With this in mind, the shops that are most likely to perform well this season are food retailers, value stores and shops selling necessities. She expects retailers selling discretionary and high-end household items to be least appealing to consumers.

“Faced with more pressure, consumers will prioritise retail spend. Food retailers should be top of the list with discretionary income-dependent items such as clothing, furniture and appliances taking a back seat. Credit sales should further decrease due to already high consumer debt levels,” said Van Biljon.

“In a highly competitive market, we expect to see shopping centres being more aware of consumers’ needs and the contribution they make to their communities. Entertainment and promotions will be a big factor in attracting shoppers.”

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shopping centre  |  reits  |  sa economy  |  retail
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