As suburbs grow, often large shopping malls are being built within proximity to smaller community retail centres. The question is, how do these smaller centres survive and continue to attract customers in the process?
According to Gregg Huntingford of Spire Property Management, the smaller centres need to evolve and to be re-purposed and repositioned as lifestyle centres which offer stores and experiences that are different to that of the competition: “Community centres that are close to large regional centres need to remain relevant by changing the way they do things.”
repositioned the Link Shopping Centre in KwaZulu Natal. In addition the planned
overall facelift, in the look and feel of the centre, we also overhauled the
tenant mix to offer customer conveniences that are not available at the nearby
regional mall and we created a family friendly concept and environment”.
“Link Hills is situated in an area where a large regional mall was developed and therefore it needed a fresh approach to remain competitive. Since completing the renovations and tenant reshuffle the centre has enjoyed renewed vigor and popularity within the local community.”
He advises that offerings such as fitness centres,
garden centres, pet shops, health and beauty salons, galleries and family restaurants
with outdoor play areas are all examples of tenants that are not accommodated
in large shopping malls but which offer a shopping experience in line with what
“Experience has shown that consumers increasingly want a shopping/retail experience and so smaller centres can remain relevant by offering amenities that fulfil this need. More greenery and park-like settings, increased natural light, interesting architecture and speciality retailers are all draw cards. Additionally, the foodie culture is now mainstream, and the typical food court options don’t cut it. Community retail centres can offer exciting dining options for the surrounding community,” says Huntingford.
Neighbourhood retail centres with the correct tenant
mix and offerings, and specifically those that sit firmly in the residential
nodes, are very attractive from a convenience point of view. In fact we are
moving to an age of hyper convenience and personalised service. Consumers
living in the nearby suburbs will frequent their local centre on an almost
daily basis to purchase household goods and groceries, to enjoy a meal at their
local restaurant or socialise over a cup of coffee, and make use of other
services offered such as a laundromat or hair dresser.
According to Huntingford, ease of access and more-often-than-not free parking are additional draw-cards held by these smaller centres which see them surviving in the face of larger regional centres springing up nearby.
“These smaller centres also have more flexibility with vacant space than the larger centres do. The rentals in a small centre are far more affordable and these centres often operate on a manageable gross rental linked to a more creative turnover based structure. This is appealing to entrepreneurs and small business owners who can be daunted by the high costs associated with renting retail space in a large shopping centre, and also like the certainty of fixed rentals for budgeting purposes.”
However, Huntingford does caution that the tenant mix in a community-based retail centre needs to be well planned in order for that centre to flourish. “Shops and services need to be matched to the needs of the surrounding neighbourhoods.”