Some developers are shifting their focus to small and convenience shopping centres, especially in rural or semi-rural areas, as demand increases in these historically undersupplied areas.
Retail experts have warned that much of Gauteng is overshopped and it would be too risky to commit to new large mall developments while consumers come under pressure in a slowing economy.
We are finding opportunities involving smaller malls. I’m doing most of my work in areas which have not had quality shopping centres before and I have found higher living standards measure shoppers have started to use these new centres," said Finlay & Associates MD Marianka Victor.
Victor said many of the malls she was managing were between 4,000m² and 8,000m². The company’s largest project was a new 20,000m² centre in Botshabelo in the Free State. "The Botshabelo mall is the largest mall in that rural area. It's already 85% let," she said.
Patrick Flanagan, head of development company Flanagan & Gerard, said there were large rural communities whose shopping needs needed to be met. "A number of rural communities do not have the facilities, infrastructure and development including shopping, that allows them to be economical with their time, transport and other costs.
"These communities generally travel to more powerful nodes to fulfil their requirements. The result is likely to be that more centres will be developed to cater for these large rural communities and this will put further pressure on the more established urban areas as the rural folk will no longer need to visit these.
"All the more reason that care should be exercised by all involved in developing and investing in shopping centres in urban environments," he said.Source: Business Day