Urban Studies research reveals some insights about Heidelberg Mall and its shoppers

Less than a year since opening, Heidelberg Mall in southern Gauteng, has swiftly established favourable shopping patterns and behaviour from a growing customer base. This underscores Heidelberg as a key regional node next to the N3, SA’s busiest national highway which connects Johannesburg and Durban.

Research undertaken by Urban Studies has revealed some exciting insights about Heidelberg Mall and its shoppers, showing that it has rapidly grown in popularity, and is also attracting highly desirable consumers with strong spending power, since opening in October 2014. While Heidelberg Mall broadly appeals to the LSM 6 to LSM 10+ profile, it is dominated by an upper-income shoppers with most of its customers falling in the LSM 9 band.

“This kind of research is important to us,” explains Michelle Amorim, General Manager of Heidelberg Mall. “We want to know our shoppers so we can really understand what they like and find out what they believe makes a great shopping trip. With the insight we gain from the customer feedback obtained in our research, we are able to make the Heidelberg Mall shopping experience even better for them.”

The 35,000sqm regional shopping centre features 120 retail stores, restaurants and services. Developed at a cost of R600 million by Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment in a joint venture with Dissilio Investments, Heidelberg Mall is home to many big-name national retailers. It is anchored by Game, Checkers, Woolworths, Edgars and Dis-Chem.

The research on Heidelberg Mall reveals some 65% of shoppers come from Heidelberg and Ratanda, while a further 4% of its shoppers live on farms around Heidelberg. Showing real regional attraction, especially for consumers from areas to its east, 31% of its support comes from people living in surrounding towns, most notably Nigel and Balfour. It also has noteworthy appeal to shoppers from Vosloorus, Grootvlei and Meyerton.

Over half of the mall’s shoppers travel for 10 minutes or less to the centre, showing strong support from its primary trade area. A 10- to 20-minute drive is typical for an established regional mall, and 31% of Heidelberg Mall’s shoppers spend this amount of time to reach the centre. In addition, 7% of its shoppers drive for longer than 30 minutes to visit the centre.

Heidelberg Mall has settled very quickly with loyal, local support. Some 63% of its shoppers visit the centre weekly. This already compares favourably with other small regional shopping centres in South Africa. “This is very impressive, considering the centre had only been opened five months when the research was undertaken,” notes Amorim.

Reflecting its powerful regional pull for such a young centre thanks to its excellent location on Jacobs Road right next to the N3 highway, 32% of its customers visit Heidelberg Mall every second week or monthly.

Plus, it is still attracting new visitors, with the remaining shoppers surveyed experiencing the centre’s shopping attractions for the first time.

“Heidelberg Mall has settled quickly, but remains in a market growth phase and we believe it will continue to attract new shoppers for some time to come,” reports Amorim.

Heidelberg Mall shoppers speak mainly Afrikaans, Zulu and Sotho. Most of its shoppers – in fact 63% – are female. The average visit to the centre sees customers enjoying around 90 minutes of shopping.

The average age of its customers is 39 years, showing a younger profile than many malls with 34% of shoppers in the younger lifestyle stage and 54% in the full-nest lifecycle stage. “So, it’s not surprising that most shoppers at Heidelberg Mall enjoy their trip to the centre with their family, partner or friends, embracing it as an enjoyable social experience too,” says Amorim.

Grocery, fashion and shoe shopping is top of Heidelberg Mall customers’ lists. Its other categories with the biggest shopper appeal include the mall’s most popular health and beauty range and its selection of coffee shops and restaurants.

Heidelberg Mall’s shoppers reported they enjoy visiting the mall because of its variety and selection of stores, its convenient location close to home or work, its shopping hours, as well as its great atmosphere and design that is clean and well laid out.

“We are delighted with the findings of the Urban Studies research, which shows the warm welcome that Heidelberg Mall has received from the local community and our surrounding neighbours,” says Amorim.

She adds: “Using this information, Heidelberg Mall can make management decisions that support the best shopping experience, choices and services for our shoppers. We will continue to deliver a top-quality, convenient retail experience, especially tailored to our customers’ needs, right on their doorsteps.”