AS the Eastern Cape’s largest shopping and entertainment centre, Baywest Mall, marks its second birthday this month (May 21), its performance for owners Rebosis Property Fund suggests consumer appetites for super-regional malls are far from waning.
According to Rebosis Property Fund group marketing manager Deborah Bailey, the flagship mall for South Africa’s largest black-owned, listed property fund is living up to its tagline, “the pulse of the Bay”.
Growth indicators for the mall include:
- Consistent foot traffic year-on-year (seven million visitors in 2016)
- Total sales growth year-on-year over a comparable period of 16.0%
- Mall trading density (sales per m²) growth of 14.3% year-on-year over a comparable period, and
- Spend per head growth of 21% year-on-year over a comparable period
“Our data shows Baywest has been embraced by the region, with almost seven million visitors through our doors in 2016,” said Bailey, adding that the super-regional mall attracted not only residents of Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch), but also brought out-of-towners into the city from as far afield as Plettenberg Bay and Grahamstown.
The mall is celebrating its two-year milestone with R20,000 in prize giveaways to shoppers over the course of its birthday weekend.
“These out-of-town shoppers would previously have visited the city intermittently, but now the mall provides a unique shopping and entertainment destination to warrant them travelling more frequently. Furthermore, once these visitors arrive in the Bay, they don’t just stop in at the mall but also conduct business elsewhere in the city, meaning that other businesses benefit from our presence,” said Bailey.
“On the whole, with a 91% occupancy rate by gross leasable area (GLA) – up from the 85% when we opened in 2015 – Baywest Mall is in a healthy state given the fact that it is just two years old and part of a larger precinct which is still in its developmental stage, and especially given the challenging macro-economic environment.”
During its two-year construction phase, the 90,000m² mall created employment for over 5,000 mostly local construction industry workers. Since opening on May 21, 2015, a further 2,000 permanent jobs have been created to staff the mall’s 250 outlets.
“Baywest creates direct employment for up to 2,000 Bay residents. This excludes the downstream economic benefits which the mall provides for the many service providers working with our tenants,” said Bailey.
Baywest Mall general manager Troy Zunckel said the shopping centre had brought a variety of exciting new brands to the Nelson Mandela Bay region, covering entertainment, dining and retail.
“Such a shopping and entertainment experience was previously only accessible to Bay residents when they travelled to cities like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.”
Speaking to the filling of the mall’s vacant stands, he said: “We have strategic vacancies to let and we are constantly in discussions with key brands around those vacancies. It is important that we create the right tenant mix of local, regional and national brands which complement all our stores. If we relax our standards and fill our available space with tenants that do not fit our strategic mix, it would harm our existing tenants rather than complementing them.”
With regard to the coexistence of the mall in relation to other centres in the region, Zunckel said: “We believe Baywest is fulfilling its role as a super-regional mall by supplementing – not cannibalising – trade at smaller shopping centres.”
Baywest had brought “fantastic new brands to the region, and created major employment opportunities”, he added.
“It has created a one-stop destination for leisure activities that were previously unavailable to local residents – such as an Olympic-size ice rink and the region’s only Ster-Kinekor IMAX and Cine Prestige movie theatres.”