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Shoppers want that authentic feel

01 September 2014 - 02:01 By Nashira Davids
FESTIVE FOOTFALL: Shoppers at Sandton City in Johannesburg
FESTIVE FOOTFALL: Shoppers at Sandton City in Johannesburg
Image: Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

Shoppers are increasingly looking for stores that reflect the values of their community.

"Retailing is like theatre: it's about magic. I think there is a move to have a village feeling at the local shopping centre," said the president of the SA Council of Shopping Centres, Marna van der Walt.

The council last week hosted its annual congress at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

"Previously, consumers wanted white stores with clean lines. Lately it is about credibility, going back to basics, linking to value systems and slower living."

Van der Walt said that in Cape Town Willowbridge Shopping Centre and The Biscuit Mill had picked up on this trend.

"I love authentic malls like the Chatsworth Centre, in Durban, which has been serving its community with great success for many years. The same goes for the Phoenix Plaza."

There are about 1800 shopping centres in South Africa, ranging from small convenience centres to supermalls such as Sandton City.

"Sandton City has been acknowledged as a top mall in Africa," Van der Walt said.

"I've spoken to people in Nigeria who prefer shopping at Sandton City to shopping in London.

"They love it because it is state- of-the-art with a wide variety of shopping."

This year's Broll Retail Consumer Survey, released at the congress, shows that though security, cleanliness and ample parking are still key attractions at shopping centres, Wi-Fi availability and coffee shops are also drawcards.

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