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More Than Just A Shopping Destination

Are South African shopping centres following global trends and becoming places where people gather to be entertained, socialise, eat and drink?

The 2018 report The Future of Shopping Centers from AT Kearney claims that yesterday’s shopping centres and malls will morph into consumer engagement spaces (CESs) — “transformed mixed-use commercial offerings designed to meet the needs of new and future generations of shoppers”.

The report further stated that retail-based real estate will become “environments where people gather to engage with friends, connect with like-minded shoppers, seek out unique experiences, reaffirm values, and interactively relate to brands on a personal level”.

And, very importantly, “destination centres are regional centres anchored by large, compelling attractions that have the capacity to draw from extended trading areas. For experience-oriented shoppers, attractions will always trump anchors”.


South African malls are certainly following this trend, focusing on unique entertainment experiences as drawcards to attract and retain customers. Umhlanga’s Gateway Theatre of Shopping in KwaZulu-Natal, for example, is undergoing a massive expansion project that will add 20 000m2 to the centre. In the Cape, the Table Bay Mall, which celebrated its first anniversary in September 2018, has achieved a turnover of more than R100-million per month and attracted 33 new tenants since opening.

One of the headline South African mall projects in recent years, the Mall of Africa in Waterfall, offers innovative campaigns to attract customers, in addition to the events and artwork that it already accommodates.

“For example, in January, we brought back our popular 11-hour sale campaign — a unique initiative offered by Mall of Africa retailers — where every six months there are exclusive discounts for consumers that physically visit the stories. The strategy is similar to the one-day sales offered by online platforms, the only difference being that it incentivises customers to come to the mall and benefit from a complete retail experience rather than just shopping online,” says Michael Clampett, head of asset management at the mall.


Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Pretoria embarked on a R2-billion redevelopment that added 50 000m2 of retail space to its footprint.

“The centre is focused on creating unique experiences for customers,” says Olive Ndebele, GM of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre.

“For instance, over the festive season, the mall hosted the Zip Zap Circus and Christmas carols as free entertainment. In addition, it ensures that the retail and food offerings keep customers coming back for more.

“We recognise that our development and that of our tenants is directly linked to the quality of retailers. While food and entertainment offerings at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre are diverse, our commitment to providing a new offering adds to the excitement of the shopping centre.”


Fourways Mall is also currently undergoing a multibillion-rand expansion that will more than double its size.

“The successful malls of the future will differentiate their offerings, with a focus on experience and convenience,” says Zoe van Onselen, head of marketing for Accelerate Property Fund.

This, she says, is where “shoppertainment” comes in “a combination of shopping and entertainment that takes the drudgery out of shopping and spices it up with a variety of entertainment options that appeal to the whole family”.

The mall offers family entertainment options such as Bounce, upgraded cinemas (including a dedicated kids cinema), and the soon-to-be-opened KidZania, an 8 400m2 children’s edutainment city. It also offers spaces for temporary installations such as climbing walls, try-before-you-buy displays and sports clinics.

Fourways Mall

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