• Satellite images reveal how South Africa’s largest shopping malls have dramatically transformed over the years as they grew into their current shapes.
  • The R9 billion Fourways Mall could be the last of its kind to open in SA, reports Business Day.
  • Tough economic times and online retail make the future uncertain for mega-malls.
  • For more go to Business Insider. 

Satellite images reveal how South Africa’s largest shopping malls have dramatically transformed in the last couple of years – at what might now be the peak for mega-malls in this country.

Now South Africa’s largest shopping centre, the R9-billion Fourways Mall in northern Johannesburg could be the last of its kind to open in SA, reports Business Day, as consumers migrate to online shopping and the economy continues to struggle.

The new Fourways Mall unveiled its upgraded version to the public in August, dethroning Menlyn Park outside PRetoria as king of the retail space as largest mall in South Africa in terms of square meterage.

“Globally the days of building gigantic malls are gone,” Keillen Ndlovu, head of listed property funds at Stanlib, told Business Day.

Fourways added more than 100,000m2 of space, increasing its retail space to 178,000m2.

In 2015 urbanisation was one of the top trends driving retail with a surge in demand for more retail infrastructure. 

But now, South African households are under severe strain due to rocketing fuel and electricity prices, as well as higher taxes. Consumers are more keenly aware of what’s in store and are actively hunting down bargains. A survey by Nielsen shows that 75% of South Africans now know the prices of the grocery items they buy and notice changes in price, from 69% in 2017.

Read: South Africans are trying to save money on food - by shopping less and stocking up on specials

That may mean that this is the peak for South Africa's biggest malls, which ranked by square metres of space are:

  • 1. Fourways Mall, Johannesburg, 178,000m2
  • 2. Menlyn Park, Pretoria, 177,000m2
  • 3. Gateway Theatre of Shopping,  Durban, 176,962m2
  • 4. Sandton City, Sandton, 146,800m2
  • 5. Mall of Africa, Midrand, 131,000m2

See how South Africa’s biggest malls have transformed.

Using satellite imagery from Planet Lab,  which gathers images from 204 bread-loaf sized satellites orbiting Earth, we were able to look at how five of South Africa’s largest malls have changed. In some cases we could go back as far as 10 years ago. 

5. Mall of Africa

Mall of Africa is South Africa's largest shopping mall ever built in a single phase, with over 131,000m2 of retail space. It is home to 300 shops. Located in Waterfall City, Midrand, construction started in October 2012 and it opened in April 2016.


4. Sandton City

This metropolis was developed from the ground up in 1973. In 2011, Sandton City embarked on a R1.77 billion expansion, now covering over 146,000m2 and become the centre of ‘Africa’s Richest Square Mile’.

Sandton City was constructed and developed by Rapp and Maister on behalf of the Liberty Group. In 2015, hundreds of millions were spent on further interior redevelopment.


3. Gateway Theatre Shopping Centre

Situated in the Umhlanga Ridge New Town Centre and boasting more than 400 stores, Gateway Theatre Shopping Centre is the third largest shopping retail outlet in South Africa, but only just. 


2. Menlyn Shopping Centre

Originally built in 1979, Menlyn Park Shopping Centre can be found in the capital city of Tshwane. Major updates were made in 1988 and then 1998 and 2000.

The latest R2.5 billion redevelopment which expanded the centre to 177,000m2 was completed in 2016.


1. Fourways Mall

The mall features a staggering 52 entrances for vehicles and pedestrians, including an impressive, but invisible, trucking and logistics tunnel underneath the building.

It’s the biggest shopping and entertainment destination in SA. 

*The article has been updated with latest mall sizes as of 10 October 2019.

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