Almost a third of tenants in Hyde Park Corner haven't opened their doors yet. (News24)
  • Mall owner Hyprop reports that shopper numbers are down 24% in the first week of June compared to last year.
  • At its top-end Hyde Park Corner mall, only 67% of tenants have opened their doors again.
  • During the coronavirus crisis, smaller neighbourhood centres have been busier than their bigger counterparts.
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New data, released by one of South Africa’s biggest mall owners, show that shopping centres are still much quieter than a year ago, as the national lockdown and the coronavirus crisis continue to dampen activity.

Hyprop, which owns Rosebank Mall, Hyde Park Corner, Somerset Mall and others, reports that average foot traffic at its malls were 24% lower in the first week of June compared to the same time last year.

This is a recovery from April – the strictest period of the national lockdown, when only food retail was allowed – when shopper numbers plummeted by 71%.

Another large mall owner, Growthpoint, recently said that footfall fell 90% at its shopping centres that are aimed at lower-income groups and which rely on public transport in April. On average, its shopper numbers fell 40% to 50% in April. Growthpoint owns the V&A Waterfront, Brooklyn Mall, Vaal Mall, Greenacres and N1City Mall.

In May, Hyprop’s foot fall was still down 39%. In March, traffic was down 24%.

While cinemas, hairdressers and beauty salons are the only outlets still legally barred from opening -  restaurants can now do collections and even alcohol sales (if they’re licensed) – many tenants have not re-opened, Hyprop’s new numbers show.

Among the worst affected is the high-end Hyde Park Corner mall in Johannesburg. Of its 500 tenants, 33% were not yet trading in the first week of June, Hyprop said. In Rosebank Mall, 24% of the shops are not yet opened.

But other malls are seeing more activity:

Atterbury Value Mart: 97% (percentage of tenants trading in the first week of June)

Somerset Mall: 92%

Capegate: 89%

Clearwater Mall: 88%

Canal Walk: 85%

The Glen: 85%

Woodlands Mall: 85%

During the coronavirus crisis, smaller neighbourhood centres are busier than their bigger counterparts.

“Convenience and community shopping centres are proving to be more resilient with people shopping locally in their neighbourhoods during the lockdown and generally not travelling to larger malls,” Growthpoint says.

Rental woes

Hyprop says it only earned 44% of its monthly rent in April, which only recovered to 55% in May.

Earlier, Growthpoint said that at its flagship property the V&A Waterfront, it only collected 50% of its usual rent in April and May.

After months of negotiation, Hyprop has still only concluded lockdown rent agreements with 37% of its tenants. Property owners have offered tenants relief, but some of the large chains are still refusing to pay rent if they couldn’t trade during lockdown.

A big worry for malls is Edcon, the bankrupt owner of Edgars and Jet. Edcon shops represent almost 7% of Hyprop’s floor space.

The company’s business rescue practitioners proposed this week that the retailers be sold. If Edcon fails to find buyers, however, this could have a big impact on malls already struggling to hold on to their tenants.

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