Malls on track for shopping records

Centres already seeing marked increase in December trade

The province’s shopping centres are bracing for a record-breaking festive season, starting when many businesses close for the year today.

Malls across the Eastern Cape are already reporting a surge in foot traffic compared with previous years and, as businesses embark on their annual shutdown, are predicting a spending spree of unprecedented proportions.

At Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth, the shopping spree is being accommodated with 12-hour trading, from 9am to 9pm each day, until December 23.

“We are definitely expecting a bumper festive season,” Baywest Mall marketing manager Lindsay Steele said, 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 shoppers, Steele said Checkers at Baywest would be trading until midnight tonight and tomorrow.

“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,” Steele said.

“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.

“We will also have the Rotary Gift of Joy, where shoppers can make the wish of an underprivileged child come true.”

Greenacres shopping centre marketing manager Kirsti Dolinschek said the centre had geared up to accommodate the increase in shoppers this month.

“We’ve already seen [an increase] and we expect it will pick up dramatically,” Dolinschek said.

“We have prepared with additional security and from [today] we will extend our hours from 8am until the usual closing time.”

At Hemingways Mall in East London, shoppers had already started flocking to the stores, assistant marketing manager Zanele Ngwenya said.

“We have experienced a higherthan-average volume of shoppers, with growth exceeding 5% year-on-year so far – which is expected to increase this weekend.

“To accommodate the expected influx of shoppers, we have extended our trading hours from 9am to 8pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and 9am to 6pm on Sundays, right up until Christmas Eve.”

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.

“Stores have been running festive season specials since the beginning of December and this is paying dividends,” centre marketing manager Wendy Zitha said.

Zitha said another drawcard was the Buffalo City Summer Carnival, with the mall hosting the annual municipal roadshow for two days, on December 19 and 20.

At Mthatha’s largest mall, BT Ngebs City, the introduction of a number of new brands has drawn in more shoppers wanting to take advantage of promotions.

BT Ngebs City general manager Lolo Sabisa said year-on-year trade was up double digits with 10.1% growth for December so far.

“And we are still expecting the usual last-minute rush.”

A similar rush is to be expected at Walmer Park in Port Elizabeth.

According to the centre’s website, trading hours will be extended from Sunday to Christmas Eve from 9am to 7pm in the week and 9am to 5pm at the weekend.

It will be open on December 26.

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