South African consumers are slowly returning to shopping malls

Some of South Africa’s biggest shopping malls are slowly returning to pre-lockdown levels of foot traffic – but not all shops are opening for business.

Hyprop Investments, owners of Hyde Park Corner, Canal Walk and Rosebank Mall, said in a business update on Wednesday (10 June) that the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the retail sector, and the resultant trading restrictions, has been severe.

Only stores providing essential products and services were allowed to trade under lockdown level 5 from 27 March 2020 to 30 April 2020. With the easing to lockdown level 4 from 1 May 2020, more categories of stores were permitted to trade.

At level 3 (effective 1 June 2020) all tenants are able to trade, except cinemas, entertainment and personal care tenants.

However, while most retailers could start trading again at the start of the month, restaurants may only provide deliveries and take-aways, provided all health and safety measures are adhered to.

“We have worked closely with our tenants to make trading possible and are optimistic that all retailers will be able to trade in the near future,” the group said.

Looking at year-on-year foot traffic data, the group reported massive declines in shopping activity between March and the first week of June. The worst was seen in April, where foot traffic declined by 71% as all South Africans (aside from essential workers) were forced to stay at home.

However, in the first week of June so far, year-on-year traffic was down ‘only’ 24% – the same drop seen comparing March 2020 to March 2019.

  • March 2020: Down 24%
  • April 2020: Down 71%
  • May 2020: Down 39%
  • June 2020 (seven days): Down 24%

Retail activity at the malls has also improved, it noted, but some malls were still seeing stores hesitant to open under level 3.

The percentage of tenants trading in the first week of June 2020 at the malls, ranged from 67% (Hyde Park Corner) to a high of 97% (Atterbury Value Mart):

  • Capegate: 89%
  • Canal Walk: 85%
  • Somerset Mall: 92%
  • The Glen: 85%
  • Rosebank Mall: 76%
  • Clearwater Mall: 88%
  • Atterbury Value Mart: 97%
  • Hyde Park Corner: 67%
  • Woodlands Mall: 85%

Hyprop said that it is currently negotiating rent relief packages with 86 of  its national and larger retailer groups, and have concluded 37% of the negotiations with 63% in process.

“Our core focus in these discussions is tenant retention. Rent collections are improving as these negotiations are concluded with individual tenants and should return to normal levels once all are finalised,” it said.

The group noted that cash collections for April and May 2020 were at 43.6% and 54.6% of monthly billings, respectively.

Read: Most small businesses won’t survive if South Africa’s lockdown extends beyond June: survey

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South African consumers are slowly returning to shopping malls