Let's Go Shopping

Our roots are in the analysis of location research. In property, it is always location, location, location. Every two years, we update the shopping centre directory for the South African Council of Shopping Centres. Currently South Africa is highly developed in shopping centres. We have over 2000 centres greater than 3,000m² and 60% are owned by major players in the property sector. How people shop will change in the future and through consolidation of store formats, new ideas for the “net” generation of shoppers will have to be researched, understood and “schmoozed” with to create loyalty. They are the least loyal of shoppers. It is the stories, not the stores that will lead to a new marketing plan. We conduct shopping centre surveys, mystery shopper surveys, focus groups at shopping centres as well as assessment of services which management use to reward/penalise stakeholders, such as cleaning companies, parking companies, etc.

The South African shopper is undergoing tremendous pressure as they:

  • Buy down
  • Dual income households mean less spend on traditional food, but growth in purchased food and either consumed outside of the home or ready prepared to consume on arrival at home
  • Higher spend on health
  • Lower spend on Clothing (Clothing retailers will have to come up with clever ways of marketing to lure shoppers through window displays, internet shopping, etc.)
  • Lower durable goods spending, other than spending on computers, iPads, latest mobile devices and flat screens, rather than the traditional lounge, dining room, bedroom spend
  • Increase in new technology products, a challenge not fully taken up by traditional retailers.

Read Shopping Centre Summary below.


Shopping Centres 2016

Source: Market Decisions

South Africa and its Shopping Centres

The SACSC (Southern Council of Shopping Centres) has completed the last edition of the Shopping Centre Directory in 2014-2015. The directory is updated every two years. This directory serves to classify and quantify the types of centres present in Southern Africa. This information is relevant to a variety of industries who are interested in the growth and development of centres in the growing continent. The amount of retail space available, the main anchors and the location of shopping centres play a big role in planning and implementing projects and creating research for the future. 
The retail sector is fast developing and evolving. It is in a constant state of change and improvement, as it is caught between the evolving needs of the consumer and the technologically changing world they are living in. The corner grocery is of course, still serving the community surrounding it, but the individual from the average neighbourhood is also seeking more than just groceries. Individuals are able to frequent bigger malls for longer periods of time, seeking not only an experience but a selection of goods and commodities that they aspire to and that support their lifestyle choices. 
The documentation and classification of these shopping centres, from the neighbourhood centre to the super regional nodes, all form a general view of how healthy the retail sector is faring. The ability to compare them to other centres around Africa also provides valuable market related research.
This edition of the Shopping Centre Directory boasts 2100 centres that have been updated with the most recent information. Each centre has a comprehensive set of available information:

  • Shopping Centre Name
  • Physical Location
  • Postal Details
  • Classification
  • Gross Leasable Floor Area in square metres
  • Centre Manager Details
  • Shopping Centre Website
  • Leasing Company Details
  • Marketing Company Details
  • Owner and Name of Holding Company (if applicable)
  • Name of Developer
  • Year Developed and Year Last Refurbished (if applicable)
  • No of Retail Floors
  • Latest Annual Foot Count
  • No of Shops
  • Main Anchors

This information allows retailers to communicate with each other, share ideas and learn. The directory is available for individual and corporate members. Members of the SACSC are involved with retail, property investment, property financing institutions, managers/management companies, developers, brokers, property professionals, consultants, retailers, tenants, researchers, and networking. This information is not only relevant for local members but extend to the global community as well as the rest of Africa.

Shopping centres in south africa
South Africa has a highly developed shopping centre industry.  Over the years, the concentration of centres has extended to the other provinces.  Gauteng probably has more shopping centres than Income, but it does have a high inflow of shoppers from outside the province as well as from the rest of the continent.

The Western Cape has the potential for more centres, largely because of the income base and the inflow from tourism.

TO WATCH:  The Northern Cape


# Centres



Adult Pop


Eastern Cape






Free State












Kwa-Zulu Natal


















North West






Northern Cape






Western Cape












Source: SACSC 2014 updated; StatsSA; Unisa BMR




Pairing Shopping Centre Data with Geographical Mapping Data

Mapping software allows the information to be displayed in a spatial and visual way. Research opportunities also arise when this data is paired with other information, such as Census, Population, Household Income, etc. Similarly, the ability to plot the information into a mapping system helps display valuable information in a geographical layout. This visual way of looking at data allows one to see patterns and trends easily with detailed maps and graphics which ultimately enables a more informed decision and capitalizes on untapped business opportunities.

Retailers through the world map their customers and track buying behaviour.  Social Media has become an important part of the entire customer behavioural focus.

Centres greater than 20,000 square metres are displayed below:

The proposed centres for the country is displayed below:

Examples of gis at macro level

land use

Population density

Income level

The Future

South Africa has a significant unemployment problem, compounded with very poor training in many spheres, especially in retail. The industry should take the initiative to address the issue of youth employment by:

  • Setting up quality apprenticeship programmes
  • Making Retail fashionable and vibey
  • Helping young people understand that retail is a way to harness entrepreneurship
  • Moving them along to shopping centre marketing and careers within the industry
  • A major start would be with regional shopping centres
  • Mentoring is strongly required in the industry


The type of behavioural training required is:

  • Helpfulness, friendliness and courteousness
  • Compassion for customers who speak a different language
  • Punctuality
  • Interviewing new recruits in middle management position could occur before one even gets to the interview.  Major retailers are now looking at the social media prior to even speaking to new recruits
  • Understanding manners of locals, foreigners and aligning oneself to be an international player

Doing Business in Africa

The most important thing developers look for is the ‘ease of doing business in Africa’.  In the graphic below, Economies are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1 – 183. A high ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local business. This index averages the country's percentile rankings on 10 topics, made up of a variety of indicators, giving equal weight to each topic. The rankings for all economies are benchmarked to June 2011. While it is becoming easier to start businesses in most African countries, there are still logistical and infrastructural challenges. South Africa ranks 43 in 2015, and this has resulted in the poor economic performance the country currently experiences.

Shopping Centres and Retail in Africa

Developers often mistake Africa for a country, but it is in fact 58 separate countries. Region wise, the West African countries display similar shopping behaviour characteristics. In North Africa, where Arabic is spoken, the shopping centres have aligned themselves to the Middle East Shopping Centre Council. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has aligned themselves to the South African Council of Shopping Centres. In the long term development of retail in the rest of Africa, there will be a need for a third council. The necessity to collect this data will prove valuable to assess market and consumer trends that are specific to each country as well as each region.

While Southern Africa has around 2100 shopping centres, the rest of Africa currently has just over 500 shopping centres. The thrust of the centres is directly related to the development in Africa, where the pace has kept momentum. A high 40% of these centres represent informal centres. South African Developers who have made inroads into the African shopping centre industry have been in an expansion phase for the last twenty or more years. Currently over 50 centres have been developed, and many more are to follow.

Many parts of Africa are still not accurately paired with geographical mapping software, and while Google can serve as an eye over the landscape, there is a necessity for a reliable, interactive system that can carry data for the investors who are currently directing their money into Africa.

MapIt or TomTom, has recently take the initiative to map the entirety of Lagos and other cities in Nigeria. These maps will also create other location-based opportunities for inventive businesses to partner with MapIt in establishing navigation, asset management, vehicle tracking and fleet management services in Nigeria.

Crowd-sourcing information, crowd-funding and crowd-feedback is a new way to gather first-hand information. The ability to display information in a visual way is due to the mapping software. The image below is of an interactive questionnaire in Kenya, compiled by FloatingSheep: The GEONET project at the Oxford Internet Institute. It investigates the geographies, drivers, and effects of Sub-Saharan Africa’s emerging information economies.  It asks whether these economies represent a new era of development, and how information and communication technologies impact on older processes of dependence, underdevelopment, and economic extraversion.
(Found on http://aureliamoser.com/category/technology/.)

Informal vs Formal Retail in Africa

African centres fall into two broad categories: Formal and Informal.  The informal retail sector plays a dominant role in all African communities and contributes greatly to each country’s GDP. The financial impact of the informal markets cannot be easily monitored or measured. While the informal market holds an important place in all African communities, there is still much potential to be gained from the establishment of formal retail centres. Some African countries have made more progress towards establishing a formal retail sector. 

Northern Africa

The largest shopping centre in Africa is Morocco Mall. It is located in Casablanca on the Western coast of Morocco and even offers visitors the possibility of going scuba diving in its million litre aquarium. This shopping centre, among others in the area are modelled on Dubai and other Middle Eastern Shopping Centres. Many of these centres are also financed by property developers from the Middle East who are replicating the extravagant malls built in their home countries. In the gulf countries as well as in North Africa, modern retail is mainly about Western European and US brands, apparel and electronics. Large centres are enticing customers for a leisurely experience as well with the inclusion of ski slopes, cinemas and entertainment centres for children as well as social gatherings for adults and friends. Despite rising disposable incomes, most consumers continue to shop in small neighbourhood stores and small scale traders, due to the tradition of street retailers and souks. In addition to this, fewer women are involved in the workforce than in developed countries, and there are still a small number of households owning a car. Egypt is to have several new centres, most of them developed by Dubai based developers.

Eastern Africa

A growing middle class and an increasing number of expatriates working for multinationals in East Africa has injected energy into property, shopping malls and better services at one-stop shops. The growing middle class is always looking for places where they can find luxurious goods and services to “spoil themselves” and malls are usually the available option.

It is estimated that there are over 40 malls coming up in Kenya alone with more than half of them located in the capital city, while the rest are distributed across the major towns in the country. In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, new malls have sprouted all over the city. This includes largest Thika Road Mall, Garden City Shopping Complex, Two Rivers Mall and the Mountain Mall.  “We have been encouraged by the strong demand shown by both local and international retailers. The inclusion of the central park and our commitment to green building measures will burnish Actis’s reputation as sub-Saharan Africa’s most experienced private equity real estate investor,” said Actis Head of East Africa Michael Turner. In addition to this there is also Kilimall.co.ke. Kenya’s largest online shopping mall, launched in 2014, trading online in East Africa. Two of Kenya’s largest retail giants Nakumatt and Uchumi supermarkets have expanded to Kampala and set up outlets in shopping centres including Oasis Mall and Garden City Mall respectively. (Source:http://afkinsider.com/53224/east-africas-growing-middle-class-demands-shopping-malls/#sthash.kMW37mck.dpuf)

Zambia relies heavily on its reserves of copper and arable land, as well its neighbouring countries’ for exporting and importing its goods. There is much large-scale agriculture, beef production (Zambeef) and sugar cane production (Illovo Group) with ties to South African companies. Retail outlets in Zambia include 28 Shoprite Stores, four large Pick n Pay and a growing number of others.

The retail industry in Rwanda has been underdeveloped due to a history of violence and political instability.  The population of Kigali is expected to double from one million to two million by 2020, creating opportunities for retail in the city. Urbanisation is currently one of Rwanda’s main development goals and residential areas, roads, hotels, offices and retail spaces have been upgraded and expanded. There is a strong link between Rwanda and Singapore in the execution of proper urban development nodes. The country needs urbanisation in order to free up land for modern agriculture. The Union Trade Centre is Rwanda’s first modern shopping mall, and has a 24-hour Nakumatt (http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/looking-to-invest-in-african-retail-three-interesting-countries-to-consider/18585/3/).

West Africa

Weija, in Ghana, is soon to be the location for West Africa's largest shopping mall. The Atterbury Group built the Accra Mall in 2007, and is now set to build West Hills Mall, with a final GLA of 39,000m2.  Ghana is politically stable, and lower costs and good ease of doing business have meant that retail investors see growth for the long term.  Currently there are still more people preferring to do their weekly shop at a local street market.  However, with a growing middle class there remains much potential in the retail sector. In addition to this, the larger centres also attract visitors from other countries like, Togo and Nigeria. "People use Accra Mall as a shopping hub, where they come and shop in huge quantities to go and stock their shops in Lomé or Lama-Kara or wherever," says Olympio Agbodza, the Accra Mall centre manager for Broll Ghana. Other large malls in West Africa are Polo Park Mall in Enugu, Nigeria, Sea Plaza in Dakar second, and Ikeja City Mall in Lagos.  (Source: Theafricareport.com)

Angola and Nigeria are considered the toughest African markets to enter. South African retailers are attempting to make inroads into West Africa. Shoprite remains in the forefront of Africa retail with 320 stores in 14 countries. Woolworths has recently removed itself from Nigeria markets due to poor road networks and erratic markets. Spar is tentative regarding its Angola store and is proceeding with caution. Massmart has already made inroads into Nigeria, and Ghana, through attractive offers at Game, cash and carry operations and Builders Warehouse. (http://www.financialmail.co.za/moneyinvesting/2015/06/25/africas-retail-market-plenty-in-store)

Retail in Angola is particularly difficult due to its history of civil war, and a severely undeveloped economy. Poor road networks, erratic power supply, and reliance on private diesel generators makes Angola a challenge. However, with the increase in oil prices and good GDP growth, Angola is becoming a middle-income country. Angola’s retail sector has seen the entry of a number of foreign companies from South Africa, Portugal and Brazil. Shoprite Holdings started in Angola in 2003 and has a network of four Shoprite supermarkets, seven U-Save discount stores, one OK Furniture and two Hungry Lion fast food restaurants, according to Euromonitor’s research. Other shopping centres include Belas Shopping Mall, The Ginga Shopping Mall, and Millennium Mall in Lubango. On the left hand side is the proposed super mall in Angola and o the right hand side is Ceddi Plaza, Nigeria. (http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/looking-to-invest-in-african-retail-three-interesting-countries-to-consider/18585/)

Indian Ocean Islands

The Indian Ocean Islands have a strong link to France, and it shows in the retail offering.
Mauritius is well advanced with regard to retail development. The new shopping malls have sprung up along the coastal areas of the island, most notably Grand Baie, Cascavelle Shopping Centre and Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius.  Many international and South African retailers are present in the area. Woolworths and Pick n Pay are both present in Mauritius.

Most of the retail in Madagascar is centred in the capital Antananarivo.  The main mall is La Cite, which opened in 2012.  There are many retailers from South Africa and France currently entering this market, like Shoprite.

Survive and Thrive

Africa is a growing market with an expanding middle class. The ‘Shopping Centre’ concept is itself quite new and many shoppers prefer to shop at local markets nearby. There does however remain a large gap between the daily shoppers who need basic convenience such as food, and the growing middle class who desire goods and fashion. While street vendors have an important place in the daily life of Africa, there is much opportunity for a shopping centre that represents brands from other countries and continents, in a formal setting. Africans are looking to the retail sector to support their businesses, their styles, and their lifestyle choices.

The retail sector is evolving and developing rapidly, but it is still modelled on the Western ideas and was born from their infrastructure. The potential success of the future of shopping centres in Africa depends largely on the stability and infrastructure of the country itself. The western shopping centres are all supported by electricity, good roads, rail, aviation infrastructure, and modern building materials. While many of these amenities are lacking in Africa there has been much development in this regard.

The gathering of shopping centre data makes for interesting comparisons and conclusions. While there can be no tracking of reliable information regarding the evolving informal markets, there is much to be seen in the growth and popularity of the shopping centre itself. As Africa looks to the West and East for inspiration and direction they are unknowingly conforming to the Western lifestyle itself. With the addition of shopping centres there becomes the necessity for cars and individuals transport of all their purchases, as well as the reliance of the banks, credit and loans to pay for the goods. While the local street shopper is not reliant on anything other than himself and his trade.

South Africa has become a leader in regards to retail and technology in the rest of Africa. South African investors are branching into other countries with the intent on creating more dynamic shopping locations and experiences for the rising middle class of Africa. The evolving consumer experience in Africa is sure to be a financially profitable venture in the future. In a global context the technology becoming available to the average African individual is increasing. The question remains whether the future of retail lies within a safe, controlled shopping centre, on the corner of the street or through the buttons of a cell phone to the internet.