Did KZN’s tills jingle?

2014-01-08 00:00

ALTHOUGH the figures on spending this past Christmas are not yet in, analysts have predicted that it was a fairly bleak season for retailers, even though sales are expected to be slightly higher than the previous year.

A study by Deloitte found the average spend on gifts is expected to increase by only 4,75%, compared with the previous year.

This didn’t stop shoppers from crowding the malls. Liberty Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg reportedly enjoyed “a positive festive period and welcomed just fewer than one million visitors to the mall”, said Stuart Gibson, general manager: coastal region, Liberty Properties.

“This figure is on par with the previous year’s festive trading foot-traffic figure,” he said.

Although official figures had not yet been submitted to the centre’s management, feedback from many tenants pointed to December 2013 trading being consistent with that of December 2012, Gibson said.

At the Pavilion Shopping Centre in Westville, which celebrates 20 years of existence this year, the foot count of shoppers in the past festive season was “phenomenally higher” compared to the previous year, said Pavilion Shopping Centre general manager Nisha Kemraj.

“We have exceeded last year’s target,” she said.

“Last year, we recorded a foot count of 2,2 million for the entire month of December 2012. By December 24 2013, we had already exceeded that figure, which indicates a resurgence.”

Kemraj said that 135 651 shoppers flocked to the mall the day before Christmas — the busiest day recorded at the Pavilion for the December 2013 period.

“This would certainly have translated into sales,” she said, adding that the shopping centre had “been exceeding the 100 000 a day count mark since December 14, 2013”.

Kemraj said that trading had been delayed as the spike in foot count only really started in the second week of December 2013.

She attributed this to companies paying bonuses later in the year, as well as the death of Nelson Mandela.

Kemraj said that restaurateurs and smaller retailers at the Pavilion were positive about their festive season business and most “would be smiling”.

At Gateway Theatre of Shopping, 3,4 million shoppers walked through its doors in December 2013, four percent fewer than in December 2012, said centre manager Akash Maharaj.

However, over the year, the shopping centre did see an increase in shoppers.

“In the year 2012, Gateway saw 26,6 million visitors in the 12-month period. In 2013, a total of 27,1 million people visited Gateway. The figure has increased by two percent,” said Maharaj.

All three shopping malls are upgrading their facilities. Liberty Midlands Mall will get about a third larger, with building beginning early this year of a lifestyle centre, including retail and office components adjacent to the existing mall.

The R380 million development is anticipated to be completed by mid-2015.

The Pavilion Shopping Centre is undergoing a massive structural redesign and redevelopment as part of its master development plan worth about R228 million.

The changes are expected to be completed in March and include an estimated R20 million revamp of the Nu Metro Cinemas, including digitally converted projectors that offer the latest world-class 3D sound and visual experience.

Gateway too is in the process of upgrading, with changes to its Expo Xplore area. The Rock, the climbing wall that was once a big draw card for the mall, was demolished towards the end of last year as its popularity had declined.

At all three malls in 2014, shoppers are promised something more exciting.

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