Vukile Property Fund says its malls are now selling more than they did before Covid-19. The owner of Mdantsane City and Gugulethu Square said footfall in its shopping centres is still trending 15% below pre-Covid[-19] levels. But customers are spending more per head each time they visit.
The property firm, which owns 45 properties in SA and Namibia and another 18 in Spain, said sales were now on average 4% above pre-Covid-19 levels.
"Shopping patterns are returning to pre-Covid[-19] trends with increased weekend trade," wrote the company in a pre-close update published on Monday.
Vukile's convenience or value centres that focus largely on grocery stores and other essential services have been resiliently growing sales throughout the lockdowns.
But the company said even its urban centres, like the East Rand Mall, are now showing improved sales. The only shopping centres that remain under pressure are those located around transport nodes. They are still struggling with both reduced sales and footfall.
"Sales recovered well with rural centres to 110%, township centres to 102%, urban centres to 92% and commuter centres to 89% relative to pre-Covid[-19] trends," wrote Vukile.
Vukile's presentation showed that sales in its rural shopping centres, which include Maluti Crescent in the Free State and Moruleng Mall in the North West, have remained above pre-Covid-19 levels since May 2020.
The effects of the unrest
With many of its shopping centres located in rural towns and "townships", Vukile was one of the landlords that bore the brunt of the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.
Vukile's malls that were looted and damaged include Durban Workshop; Pinetown Pine Crest; Hammarsdale Junction; KwaMashu Shopping Centre, Daveyton Shopping Centre; and Soweto Dobsonville Mall.
On Monday, the company said 473 shops were damaged across those malls. It expects to spend R125 million to repair those, an amount that it is fully claiming from Sasria. Some malls have been fully restored, while others will complete their repairs sometime this month. But the repairs in KwaMashu Shopping Centre will take up to March 2022 because of fire damage.
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