City shoppers go mad in festive season

2007-12-19 00:00

Have hiked interest rates affected Christmas spending?

If the traffic congestion in different shopping centres around the city is anything to go by, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

With Christmas looming, Pietermaritzburg residents have taken full advantage of the recent inclement weather to "shop till they drop" to fill their loved ones’ Christmas stockings.

Over the weekend, municipal traffic police were called in to assist at the Liberty Midlands Mall. A spokesperson said police remained on standby on Saturday to monitor the situation.

Liberty Midlands Mall centre manager, Sharon Swain, said the mall has experienced growth in both "foot traffic" and turnover throughout 2007.

"This is evident especially as we approach the festive season with anchor tenants reporting substantial posted turnover growth in November and December … Vehicle and foot traffic counts are all increasing and up on 2006 statistics," she said.

However, she said this growth has not affected parking and they were satisfied with the way they have been able to manage the situation. "It is hard to say if interest rates have affected shopping. Certain stores said they are significantly up in sales, while others say they are significantly down."

Lara Gracie, the Scottsville Mall manager, said it doesn’t appear as if they have been affected by the interest rates. "We had a slow start at the beginning of the month but we have picked-up drastically. The car park is constantly full," she said.

However, Gracie does believe that the average grocery shopper will spend less on luxury foods and gravitate towards necessities.

Both women agreed that this year has been pleasant for shoppers. "After just being in Johannesburg, I can tell you that Pietermaritzburg people are friendly and more relaxed. I think the city is much more laid back," said Swain.

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