CAPE TOWN -  Footcount at more than 100 retail centres across South Africa showed positive growth in the quarter to end-June 2019 for the first time since 2016, a South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) research report said Wednesday.

Footcount per square meter grew by 1.4 percent. However trading density growth - of 5.7 percent for the year to end-June 2019 - was largely a function of spend per head rising 4.2 percent, the report said.

The trading density was up from the 3.2 percent in the first three months. Annualized retail trading density growth had been driven mainly by smaller retail formats.

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“An important point is that improved trading density growth (in neighborhood shopping centres) has been mainly landlord-driven  via active management and right-sizing, rather than consumer driven.”

Neighborhood centre food based retailers grew sales by 3.6 percent, but it was an 11.3 percent reduction in average store size that was the major driver of the increase in trading density growth.

Negative footcount growth from 2016 to 2019 had suggested that consumers were visiting malls less frequently, even though their spend per person kept pace with inflation.

Household expenditure continues to be blunted by consumer and administered price increases, higher income tax and additional levies such as the carbon fuel levy that has raised fuel prices.

The Super Regional Shopping centre segment saw its annualized trading density rebound after fears it was running out of runway in the first quarter.

The vacancy rate of the centres was 4.3 percent, above the 2.9 percent long term average.

BUSINESS REPORT