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RETAIL: Super-Regional Malls Corner the Market


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Research tracking key performance indicators at SA shopping centres shows that while small local centres enjoy the highest frequency of visits by far, it's regional and super-regional shopping centres that consistently generate the longest dwell times and highest loyalty among shoppers.

The data also shows that small centres are most at risk of heightened competition, shifting loyalties, and inconveniences like high traffic volumes or disruptive road construction.

Released by the SA Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), Shopping Centre Benchmark Indicators 1998-2009 by respected retail researcher Dirk Prinsloo, highlights the diverse roles and positions that centres play in their locations and communities.

Super-regional shopping centres generate by far the highest levels of loyalty, and shoppers are willing drive for 20 to 25 minutes to reach their favourite mall. But shoppers are only willing to drive for 8-11 minutes to get to their local neighbourhood centre.

Another key performance indicator is dwell time, the length of time that a shopper spends on average at a mall. In the early 2000s, the average dwell time at a centre smaller than 10,000sqm was 44 minutes. By 2009, the dwell time declined more than 30 percent to 30 minutes per trip.

“Shorter, more frequent trips have become the norm,” explains Sisa Ngebulana, SACSC president, pointing to extended trading hours as just one strategy to attract more shoppers.

In contrast, a super-regional centre enjoys dwell times of 2 hours.

The numbers point to smaller centres as local, neighbourhood and convenience destinations, while the super-regional malls – like Sandton City in Johannesburg, Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Durban, Hemingways Mall in East London and Canal Walk in Cape Town – are all about recreation and shopper entertainment.

Still, smaller centres do have the edge when it comes to frequency of visits.

Anchored by grocery stores, smaller centres consistently attract 65% to 80% weekly visits, while super-regional centres attract a lower 50% weekly visits. “This research report is one of the market intelligence resources the SACSC makes available to its members to aid their operational decision-making,” notes Ngebulana.

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