Hot off the heels of the global Black Friday phenomenon, retailers, brands and shopping centres across South Africa are now gearing up to make the most of 2018’s Festive Season which is already upon us. The South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) spoke to many mall general and marketing managers to find out what they have instore for consumers this Festive Season. Many have reported back saying that entertainment for the whole family with the emphasis on the little ones was high on the agenda. The general view among mall managers was that the Festive Season presents a longer period of retail trade compared to last month’s Black Friday’s single day of special deals. Black Friday was reported as a busy trading day, however shopping centres are still anticipating busy trading days in the second half of December with the busiest days anticipated just before Christmas.
Commenting on last year’s Festive Season, Chief Economist for the Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt said that more money was spent over the 2017 Festive Season compared to the rest 2017. “Consumers spend more over the Festive period – not because of improved circumstances but mostly because of factors such as better marketing and relatively low interest rates. Developments such as Black Friday have also contributed to the spending ‘binge’,” he said.
South Africa’s fluctuating economy has also meant that most of the country’s consumers remain cash-strapped. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said that government is prioritising regaining SA’s investment grade rating on its debt as part of its plans to revive a stagnant economy. “It’s priority number one because we have to get out of the status that we are in and back to proper investment grading and we are working hard at this. We need to demonstrate action around the fiscal stance and the budget standpoint of South Africa and show that we are taking steps to reduce the debt that is accumulating. We need to take serious steps to show that we are moving to restructuring the economy and reigniting growth,” he said.
Global Keynote Speaker, Political Economy Analyst, Futurist and Author Daniel Silke said that retail will be under strain this Christmas as shoppers digest a tough year where utility costs and interest rates have squeezed disposable income further. “There is some relief in the drop in the petrol price although the longer-term pressures are more likely to have a dampening effect than allow for splurges. Consumers will be looking again at value-related purchases and gifting - so retailers catering to that market segment will be less affected. Of concern is the effect of load-shedding on the broader sector which may benefit online traders as opposed to malls where erratic power cuts leave shoppers in the dark. I expect online to grow well over the season putting a strain on some bricks and mortar retailers. This will potentially affect the performance of those who do not have a competitive on-line offering. Whilst this season may well be muted in terms of spend, it might not be as bad as many think. But consumers will be shifting their spend to value categories as they navigate very tough conditions,” he said. He further added that this Christmas season will also be vital for some retailers who have struggled in recent years and are in the process of restructuring their offerings. They will be watching turnover and sales with possible view towards further cost-cutting in the New Year.
What are South African Malls doing over this time:
Morningside Shopping Centre
Morningside Shopping Centre General Manager Sharon Henry said that she expects the first two weeks in December to be the busiest and after the 16th which is a public holiday, the centre quietens down until early January. Sharon also added that she expects the first two weeks of December to be more busy than last month’s Black Friday campaign. “Black Friday doesn’t really make a huge impact at Morningside Shopping Centre. We are more of a convenience and neighbourhood mall. We are excited to announce that Bidvest Waltons will be opening this month which will result in January being busy with their “back to school” campaign. I think January will be just as busy as our December,” she said.
Eco Boulevard Shopping Centre
Sharala Naidoo Portfolio Vacancy Manager for M-T Development said that at Eco Boulevard centre, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month of December gain the most traction in terms of footfall. She also added that the recent Black Friday Campaign will not affect December numbers. She also added that her tenants will be offering various in-store specials throughout December. Sharala further added that January will be moderate as consumers spend more in December. “Most of our consumers are cash-strapped in January following December spend. This is further affected by payment of school fees and other fixed commitments,” she said.
Ilonka Reichelt Marketing Manager for Kyalami Corner said that Kyalami’s busiest trading days will be the weekend of the 14 -16 December. “Schools are closed and everyone is busy getting everything for their holiday. We also anticipate that Festive Trading will be on par with Black Friday. Looking at last year’s stats, I don’t think it would be more than Black Friday, might be more or less the same. The centre will have Carnival Rides till 6th January 2019 and Post Link is hosting their Photos with Santa again this year,” she said.
Pertunia Tsotetsi, Maponya Mall Marketing Manager said that Friday 21st to Monday 31st will be the busiest. She also added that she doesn’t anticipate December spend to be better than that of Black Friday. “Black Friday has caused disruption in retail and has influenced shopping habits, more so in townships where consumers were not educated on deals. Black Friday has become the first Christmas shopping day. Consumers go for great deals and savings. This also varies per area and LSM. December shopping is high on groceries and uniform shopping and back to school preparations. You’ll notice that a lot of stores start driving back to school specials in December,” she said. Maponya Mall is focused on entertaining children this Festive Season. The mall is offering photos with Santa Clause, ice-cream biscuit making, go-karts, pony rides, a dedicated play area and a Christmas Carols concert from a local choir that raises funds for a cause. The mall has also increased shopping hours to 7pm from 14 December 2018.
General Manager for Sandton City Preston Gaddy said typically the 16th and 23rd of December are bumper trading days, however it does depend on a number of factors such as weather, long weekends etc. He also mentioned that the sheer volumes of footfall and spend, experienced at Sandton City on Black Friday 2018 would be difficult to match over the Festive Season. Preston added that Sandton City has a jam-packed line-up of events for shoppers this month. “We have a fantastic line-up of events including the Nutcracker Circus which is a fun-filled family show designed, directed and choreographed especially for Sandton City. There will be a daily Christmas Parade, carols on the Square on the 23rd of December, Photos with Santa as well as gift wrapping stations throughout the centre,” he said. He further added that the mall will be extending shopping hours to 9pm until the 23rd of December.
Marli Strauss, from Centurion Mall said that their anticipated busy days will be 13 to 17 December Long weekend and the 21 to 24th of December. Marli anticipated that December sales would be better than last month’s Black Friday. “This is due to the fact that most patrons receive their annual bonuses and gets paid earlier, I definitely think that the sales will be better. Further to this, we are also hosting various activities to draw more consumers to the centre as well as keep the kiddies entertained. This year, we are hosting a Santa’s Workshop that is an exhibition where you can walk though Santa’s House, Elves workshop with free kids activities, a free synthetic ice rink and free gift wrapping stations – where customers can give donations – all proceeds to go to Little Leaps School for Autism, Letters to Santa Competition – kids can write a letter to Santa, place the letter in the mail box, we do a daily draw and winners win a R1000.00 voucher from either Toy Kingdom or Toys R Us. We will also host a Christmas Market from 13 to 17 December,” she said. Marli further added that their will be additional staff on site to assist with directions and heavy lifting (carrying shopping bags for customers).
Ammi Geldenhuys from Stoneridge Centre said that they will be the busiest from 7 to 17 December. “Thereafter the centre quietens down for the holidays. Grocery trading remains strong especially before Christmas and New Year. December trading for us will be better than last month’s Black Friday-especially after pay day and bonus pays. We will be hosting a Festive Parade on 15 and 16 December. The Festive Parade will be led by Santa, his elves & fairies with a Marimba Band and other Hawaiian Beach & Ocean Holiday characters. Customers and their kiddies can take pictures with our ‘cool Hawaiian styled’ Santa while being entertained by jugglers, balloon sculptors and stilt walkers. We also have an entertainment and beach area created for the little ones. There will be giveaways as well as a kiddie’s carousel and train. For the adults we will be hosting live music in the food court on 29 and 30 December,” she said.
Pearl Sekgobela, Marketing Manager for Matlosana Mall anticipates 15th and 16th December as the centre’s busiest. “16th December is a public holiday celebrated by many through hosting braais at home, going out to parks or going on holiday. Therefore, extensive shopping takes place on the 15th in preparation for the 16th and on the very day, customers usually rush in for last minute shopping. On the whole, December trade will be stronger than Black Friday. This is mainly because people do not feel as ‘pressurised’ to make purchases urgently or all in one day and the excitement behind Festive Season Shopping is not as punted in terms of marketing as compared to Black Friday. In terms of added draw cards for our customers, this year, we will be bringing Carnival Rides that are normally brought in the Easter Holidays for which our customers are excited about. We are also running a Christmas Tree Decorating Competition whereby schools decorate some of our Christmas trees in the mall and the school with the best tree wins mall shopping vouchers,” she said. Pearl also added that she anticipates January being a busy month. “This is because the Festive Season is mostly based around entertaining children and back to school is also about children, so the essence of customers visiting the mall remains the same, which is shopping. The only difference between these two periods is the type of goods purchased, December it is gifts and luxuries that are purchased whereas in January it is stationary and school clothing,” she added.
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre
Olive Ndebele, general manager of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre said that the Festive trade commences in October for this super-regional centre. “Black Friday is always busy and record sales numbers have been previously noted on the 16th of December. Most customers get paid on the 15th and thus enjoy the shopping from pay-day. The 24th of December is also a rush with good sales numbers. Compared to Black Friday, this year it was spread from Wednesday, 21 November all the way to Sunday, 25 November. We had in excess of 150000 people on Black Friday and we have noted that Black Friday week was busier than previous years,” she said. Olive also said that this Festive Season, Menlyn Park Shopping Centre will offer customers more entertainment than before. “We kicked off acknowledging the 30th World Aids Day with Christmas Carols and we have two daily Zip Zap Circus shows with free entry to the public until the 23rd of December. There will be Mickey Plush Toys for sale, gift wrapping and Father Christmas is here for photos-after all this is Santa’s Factory! We will be extended trading hours until 22h00. Next year, we normally experience what we call ‘the second Christmas in January’ with all the holiday makers returning and replenishing groceries as well as back to school purchases,” added Olive.
Gerri Botha from the Cradlestone Mall marketing team anticipates the mall will start gaining massive foot-traffic once the Kids Holiday activities commence from the 12th of December. “Our December trade will be greater than Black Friday. Cradlestone Mall does exceptionally well when we offer kids activities and entertainment. Our main focus are the kids this season. Cradlestone Mall will have kids holiday activities and entertainment daily from the 12th of December until the 6th January. All the lower level courts will be filled with free fun. Our theme is ‘In the Wild’, consisting of a jungle playground in the Woolworths Court, animatronic animals and a creative kid’s corner in the Edgars Court, jungle vibe tribe in the Game Court and kids can play with creepies and crawlies in the Sedgars Court over weekends. The Adventure Park is an outside inflatable wonder world for kids to enjoy the whole day. Festivities include gift wrapping, photos with Santa, gift ideas on display throughout the Mall and beautiful carols from the Kagiso Brass Quartet. Shoppers can make a difference by supporting, the ‘Tags for Hope’ initiative, it is as easy as selecting a tag from our décor trees to spoil someone in need this Season. The nominated charity is, Twilight Angels,” she said.
Marketing Manager for the Pavilion Julie-Anne Zuma said that Pavilion’s consumer influx commences from the 14th of December. “We always seem to accommodate our last-minute shoppers in the couple of days preceding the 25th of December - but we do usually note a significant increase the moment schools close for the holidays. Our peak trading times will be from the weekend pre-Christmas. We also anticipate these days will be better than Black Friday in terms of sales. Black Friday was only just one day - and people were not always able to get the day off but during this extended period we certainly note an overall uptake in mall foot traffic. This is further enhanced by our festive campaign which has a significant focus on children, especially at this time of year, and together with our partnership with Cartoon Network - we have a fabulous line-up in store. This will of course also be coupled with tenant activity that has been specially conceptualized and developed for this wondrous time of year. Furthermore, we have planned extended trading hours. The centre will trade from 9am to 10pm from 14 December to 23 December 2018. Plus, shoppers can enjoy free parking after 6pm during this period when they visit The Pavilion Shopping Centre,” she said.
Gateway Theatre of Shopping
Akash Maharaj, General Manager of Gateway anticipates 23rd of December 2018 as the busiest day for the centre. The centre also will also have a number of activities for consumers. “We have Lego Play World at Gateway which is an interactive family activation and features a history walk, Lego Museum, Artic Zone, Lego Cinema, Lego gaming units, robotics and a giant play pit. In the Palm Court we will have live entertainment from the 14th to the 23rd of December between 6 and 9pm. Photos can also be taken with Santa and we have a gift-wrapping station. Furthermore, we will also be extending shopping hours to 10pm on certain days,” he said.
Jane Pillay, Marketing Manager of Southcoast mall said that 15 December to 24th December is anticipated as the busiest days over the Festive Season. She also added that due to early payment of salaries and bonuses, Festive Season retail will be greater than that of Back Friday. Over the Festive period, Southcoast Mall will be offering customers various activities to partake in. “With Southcoast Mall hosting a holiday market, the beach promo is our highlight. We will be hosting special promotions throughout the Festive along with photos with Santa in the Kidz Zone,” she said.
Ronica Inarman, General Manager of the Ballito Junction centre anticipates 21st, 22nd and 24th December 2018 as the centre’s busiest. She added that she anticipates Festive trade to be greater than that of Black Friday which took place last month. She also said that customers will have a number of festivities to look forward to this December. “Kiddies have a chance to meet and get a photo with Santa, we will be hosting daily kiddies entertainment programmes, Live music, free movies under the stars as well as a number of gift wrapping stations for customers. We will also be extending hours. Furthermore, we expect sales for December 2018 to be higher than January 2019. January will still present positive trading opportunity. The anticipation of great end of season store sales will provide customers with good value, hence this is another trading month. Back to school will also be high on the shopping agenda-although this commenced in November already,” she said.
Lara Gracie, General Manager for Cornubia anticipates 15 December and 22 December to be the busiest trading days for the centre. “However following on from last year, the period from the 15th – 24th December was very well supported with the 24th being our busiest day,” she said. Lara stated that the centre’s Festive period numbers will be better than Black Friday. “The majority of customers will have received their Christmas bonuses we believe we will enjoy higher turnover over this period. We will also launching the Cornubia Mall Cycle Lab Road and MTB cycles during December to attract cycling enthusiasts both local and our visiting tourists. Also, from the 15th we are trading until 8pm, until 24 December 2018. And come 2019, the dovetail of Christmas and Back to School always extends busy trade into January,” she said.
Gouwa Waja from Kenilworth Centre anticipates peak Festive Season trading over the period 15 – 24 December 2018. Gouwa further added that December trade will exceed that of Black Friday. “Based on the results over the last two years, we are expecting/forecasting the festive season sales to be higher than Black Friday. Furthermore, we have launched free WIFI as a gift to our customers over the Festive Season. The campaign will include a competition for 100 customers to win a Dunkin Donuts treat and iced latte voucher daily if they use the free WIFI for at least 1.5 hours. A total of 1000 customers will receive vouchers over a 10-day period. We will also extend trading hours for the Festive Season. We will trade from 8.00am until 8.00pm daily for the period 18 – 21 December 2018. Also come January, school is scheduled to start earlier than previous years. We anticipate that more customers will do their ‘back to school” shopping during December 2018 as opposed to January 2019,” she said.
Pieter van der Westhuizen, General Manager for Brackenfell Centre said that the anticipated busy days over the Festive Season will be the 22nd, 23rd, 24th December 2018. He also anticipates that Festive trading will exceed that of Black Friday and that the centre will have extended trading hours to 8pm daily.
Table Bay Mall
Karla Linder, Marketing Manager for Table Bay Mall said that there has already been an increase in footfall at the centre. “This is sure to increase further from the 14th December as we offer our extended shopping hours for further customer convenience. We are also very excited about our brand-new Table Bay Mall Festive App. This augmented reality is a first in South African shopping malls. Following Black Friday we anticipate Festive trading to be greater. As per shopping mall trends throughout the world and South Africa, the Festive Season always creates a very successful shopping environment as we all enjoy this joyous time. The Festive Season historically runs over a longer period of time than that of Black Friday so sales have been a greater success,” she said. She also added that Table Bay will be offering a number of activities for customers this year. “We are excited to let you know that from 1-26 December shoppers at Table Bay Mall can get ready for something extra special and exciting, as the 21st century and Festive Season come together in an all-new fun experience that will wow young and old – the Table Bay Mall Festive App, which features an augmented reality Santa Claus. The Secret Santa feature on the mall’s festive app allows shoppers to scan one of eight different scenes with their iPhone or Android smartphone – signaled by large festive decals that have been scattered around the mall – and see Santa doing something fun within each scene Shoppers are then encouraged to take a photo with Santa through the app and upload their favourite photo to the Table Bay Mall Facebook page for a chance to win a share of R4 000 in vouchers. Other holiday activities at Table Bay Mall this Festive Season include a stylish wrapping station with all proceeds donated to local charities; a lovely grand piano and pianists adding to the special ‘Festive feeling’ in our beautiful centre court and children’s giveaways and more,” she concluded.
N1 City Mall
Natalie Dipenaar, Marketing Manager for N1 City said that traditionally, the days leading up to Christmas Day are the busiest of the Festive Season. She also said that with Black Friday gaining momentum in South Africa over the past few years, both these periods are proving very important in the retail calendar in terms of driving sales. Further to this, N1 City Mall will be extending its shopping hours from 14 December 2018. The centre will also host Santa and offer a charity gift wrapping service in the lead up to Christmas. She concluded by saying that January is expected to be busy but peak trade is always experienced in December.
Whale Coast Mall
Andrea van Rensburg, Marketing Manager for Whale Coast Mall said she expects 21 to 24 December 2018 as their busiest. The centre will offer consumers a gift-wrapping service, Kiddies Christmas Craft Corner as well as Roaming Musicians throughout the Festive Season. The mall will also offer extended trading hours from 17th December to the 23rd.
Golden Acre Shopping Centre
Carlyn Conradie, Marketing and Exhibitions for Golden Acre Shopping Centre said that the busiest days for the Festive Season will commence from the week leading up to the long weekend of 16 December and the week leading up to Christmas. Carlyn expects Festive trading to exceed Black Friday. She also added that over December there will be a number of activities for customers. “We will host our annual Santa Station From 17 December – 24 December 2018. Shoppers will have the opportunity to meet Santa and have their picture taken with him. There will be daily kids activities to keep the little ones entertained during the school holidays. We will also be hosting the Walking Angels which raises funds for The Burger Charity Foundation. The centre will trade one hour earlier and close one hour later from 18 December till 24 December,” she added.
Tyger Valley Shopping Centre
Tanya Heimann, General Manager for the Tyger Valley Shopping Centre anticipates the busiest trading days over the Festive Season will commence from 15th – 24th of December with the extended hours until 21h00 daily. Commenting on last month’s Black Friday campaign, Tanya said that Black Friday has dampened spend over the Christmas period. “However, we are hoping that with 17th being a public holiday, spend may increase over the festive period. The market is indicating that families may stay home over the Festive period as opposed to going away, which may result in increased local support. Furthermore, we are excited about the fact that we will be the first shopping centre in the Western Cape, to welcome LC Waikiki - the International Unisex Fast Fashion store. The store will open on the 8th of December 2018 with a star-studded celebrity opening event. We would also like to special mention of all our new stores, including newly revamped Truworths with Loads of Living Brand, Bras N Things, Kingsley Heath, The Velvet Cake Co, Rain, PNA, OTG, Biggie Best, Dermalogica, Miniso and Mr Kruger Gold. We will also offer a Kiddies Christmas activation in our arena area, including a reptile park, face painting, photos with Santa and jumping castle. Kiddies can be dropped off to play in a safe and secure environment, whilst mom and dad are free to shop,” she said.