(Port Elizabeth) – It appears to be a case of “jingle tills” as retailers brace for a record-breaking Festive Season from this weekend, as factories close, bonuses are paid and the bulk of South Africa embarks on their December holidays.
Malls throughout the Eastern Cape are already reporting a surge in foot traffic compared to previous years and, as businesses embark on their annual shutdown, retailers are predicting a spending spree of unprecedented proportions.
At the province’s largest mall, Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth, the shopping spree is being accommodated with 12-hour trading, from 9am, seven days a week, until December 23.
“We are definitely expecting a bumper festive season,” said Baywest Mall marketing manager Lindsay Steele, adding that the mall was on track to achieve 10.9% year-on-year growth in visitor numbers for December.
To accommodate the rush of festive shoppers, Steele said Checkers at Baywest would be trading until midnight on December 15 and 16.
“We also have some great holiday highlights, like the national DinosAlive exhibition, which is certainly bringing more visitors to the mall, as is our photo area with Santa,” said Steele.
“Because this is the season of giving, we are also offering a gift-wrapping service in aid of the Red Band Barista Academy, which trains unemployed youth to master the art of coffee making. And we will have the Rotary Gift of Joy in our central court, where shoppers can make the wish of an underprivileged child come true.”
Said Zanele Ngwenya, assistant marketing manager at Hemingways Mall in East London: “We have already experienced a higher than average volume of shoppers through our doors, with growth exceeding 5% year-on-year so far – which is expected to increase with the influx this weekend. It seems that this year, more than ever, shoppers prefer to do all their shopping at one venue, while at the same time taking advantage of the crazy specials on offer at various stores.”
“To accommodate the expected increased influx of shoppers, we have extended our trading hours from 9am to 8pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and from 9am to 6pm on Sundays, right up until Christmas Eve.”
Meanwhile Mdantsane City Shopping Centre, just outside East London, has also reported a 5% year-on-year upswing in foot traffic as shoppers cash in on seasonal specials – a number they expect to increase from this weekend.
“Stores have been running festive season specials since the beginning of December and this is paying dividends, with foot traffic showing a marked increase,” said Mdantsane City marketing manager Wendy Zitha.
Zitha said another massive drawcard was the Buffalo City Summer Carnival, with the mall hosting the annual municipal roadshow for two days on December 19 and 20.
“This is an extremely popular event, which has stopped off at Mdantsane City every year since 2008. It features national artists and DJs performing on a massive stage. There are also stalls, dancers and kids’ entertainment.”
At Mthatha’s largest mall, BT Ngebs City, the introduction of a number of new brands has also drawn in more shoppers wanting to take advantage of a variety of price cuts and promotional sales. BT Ngebs City general manager Lolo Sabisa said year-on-year trade was up double-digits – 10.1% for December so far, and the number was expected to increase.
Hoping to draw even more shoppers, the mall is running a R20,000 giveaway competition and creating a festive vibe with a Father Christmas Corner and carollers serenading shoppers with Christmas songs.
“While we are already enjoying an increase in trade, we are expecting the usual last-minute rush starting from December 20, right up to Christmas Eve,” said Sabisa.