Dr Ankit Katrodia, a post-doctoral former research fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, recently presented his research into consumer buying behaviours at seven malls across the city at the SA Council of Shopping Centres Research Conference in Joburg.
Malls covered in the study included La Lucia Mall, the Workshop Shopping Centre, Westwood Mall, City View Mall, Windermere Shopping Centre, Chatsworth Centre, and the Atrium Shopping Mall.
The research was published in the African Journal of Business and Economic Research last month.
Katrodia gathered data from 700 shoppers, selecting 100 consumers from each mall and asking them to rate a range of social, cultural and psychological factors affecting buying decisions from the spaciousness of store floor space to the availability of parking and children’s entertainment activities.
His research also aimed to compare buying capacity and the shopping experiences of male and female consumers at selected malls.
Katrodia’s study found that 33.2% of women interviewed spent two to four hours in a mall over a month compared with 23.5% of men, while 22.5% of women and 17.5% of men spent more than four hours in a mall.
The top five most important factors affecting buying decisions at malls for both women and men, although ranked slightly differently in order of priority, included mall image and popularity, a spacious shop floor, parking, billing and checkout time and atmosphere. Customer service and staff attitudes were more important to women (ranked 7) compared with men (ranked 14), while security was also equally high up on the priority list (ranked 6) for both genders.
Other factors that attracted consumers to the malls and affected buyer behaviour were temperature control, cleanliness and the availability of free parking and entertainment areas for children.
Katrodia said the research was important because it could inform shopping mall managers and retailers how to meet consumer demands and attract customers.
“I’d like to do a study in Johannesburg and Cape Town to give insight into the shopping malls there because this kind of research is required in South Africa and will give new direction to malls and mall developments,” Katrodia said.
Katrodia said that despite the growth in online shopping there was still a strong demand from consumers for brick-and-mortar malls as they offered entertainment experiences, and consumers also still wanted to physically touch products before purchasing.
“Shopping malls are still popular for people to meet to go to movies, meet for coffee, and to take children for entertainment, and they are a place where people can get together for business meetings,” Katrodia said.
Katrodia hopes the research findings will help with the formulation of new strategies to retain consumers and enhance the service quality of retailers in local shopping malls.