Pretoria - Development and investment in Pretoria’s shopping and retail sector has given the city a surge in its economic status.
The rise in the number of shopping centres has put the city among the country’s premier areas.
The city boasts no fewer than five of the province’s most impressive malls, with Menlyn Park being the biggest, and at 118 253m2, carries the title of Super Regional Shopping Centre.
Economists have said the city’s high population growth, and resultant household income, has made it a premier destination for both investment and shopping, urban development economist Calvin Kulu said.
“Although the recession dealt a blow to the spending ability of most households across the country, Pretoria remained a city of hard-working, able people from across both economic spectrums.”
He said the potential in sustaining developments as large as shopping malls defied the poor economic outlook of the past few years.
The mushrooming of malls, with developers spending billions to secure their stake in the sector in recent years, has been an indication of expectations being met, Kulu said.
The SA Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) has attributed the successes of retail developers to the landscape of shopping centres adapting to customers’ changing wants and needs, and being sensitive to how customers believe those needs should be met.
“They have gone beyond everyday items like food and into the newly established world of branded goods in both clothing and gadgets that represent status and are popular in countries in the US and Europe,” the council says on its website.
Economists have predicted the improvement of the city’s position as renovations to major malls and the emergence of new ones continue. This includes such developments such as the newly approved R3 billion Sun International development, which will feature a casino bigger than Montecasino’s gaming area, and the Mall of Africa to cost R3.5bn, both going up in Pretoria East.
An injection of R2bn has been set aside to improve Menlyn Park, which sees more than 1.5 million people walk through it every month.
Townships have also received their share of shopping centres, which are accessible to communities and which have brought major brands in food, commercial services and clothing closer to them.
The Moolman Group’s brand has seen the Mamelodi Crossing and the Soshanguve Crossing cut down on the need for shoppers to travel long distances, while Pretoria West has the Quagga Mall and Attlyn in Atteridgeville. And while some malls target a specific economic bracket of shoppers, the city’s newest offering, Forest Hill to the south-west of the city, has plans to cater for both the communities from the lower- and high-income bracket.
Situated on a hill in Monavoni near the N14 and R55 highways between Pretoria and Sandton, and spectacularly shaped like a rugby ball, the mall is bordered by the communities of Olievenhoutbosch and some affluent Pretoria West homes.
It is the first of a three-phase project of the development and investment company Billion Group, and when it opened its doors at the end of May, it had already benefited 7 500 workers from the surrounding area and created about 2 600 permanent jobs, centre manager Howard Kekana said.
Their mix of shops catered for everyone from those communities, he said. The motto “My Way of Life” aimed at ensuring a total lifestyle and comprehensive experience for their shoppers.
The mall is 75 000m2 and offers all shopping on one circular race track. It has 4 200 parking bays on four parking levels, all directly accessible from the centre of the shopping level’s core, which has been lauded a first in South Africa.
“The design allows quick and easy access to the shopping centre from any point within the parkade,” said project manager Ben Gannon.
The mall’s shops have been grouped according to specific retail section, with furniture shops on one side, baby shops and boutiques side by side, cellphone shops within easy reach, and banks, grocery shops and clothing, bed and linen shops within easy reach of their competitors.
“With major SA retailers, exclusive brands and some international offering among our shops, we have a pretty impressive mix,” Gannon said during a walkabout along the 1km circular shopping level.
“The City of Tshwane boasts some of the largest and most modern shopping centres in the southern hemisphere,” a regional tourist website says.
Some of Forest Hill City mall’s attractions: