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Fortress observes shopper uptick as lockdown eases

Thrupps Illovo Centre
Thrupps Illovo Centre.

With shoppers slowing beginning to return to shopping centres and malls after the lockdown restrictions were slightly easy on the 1st of May, Fortress REIT expects further shopper activity once South Africa downgrades to Level 3 from the 1st of June.

Vuso Majija, Head of Retail Property at Fortress comments:

This is a welcome relief for the economy and those parts of the retail sector which were not able to trade due to lockdown restrictions. Shop owners and landlords are sensitive to the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic and have shown immense effort to ensure the safety and health of shoppers remains their priority.”

The owner of sixty malls across South Africa, the company has observed that mall owners are taking exceptional precautions to educate both workers and customers regarding the prevention of Covid-19.

Among other actions being taken, first and foremost, we have stepped up our hygiene and safety by cleaning more frequently and focusing on high-traffic and high-touch areas within our centres.  We are also focusing on the wellbeing of our onsite staff by ensuring that we have the correct PPE and sanitisers in place,” says Majija. “It’s early days yet, but it is very encouraging to visit shopping centres and see that most people have face masks and are willing to work together with centre management to adhere to social distancing procedures. I think that these measures are the first steps in assuring shoppers that it is safe to visit the centres”.

 “We hope that there will be a further loosening of restrictions soon, so that more tenants can open, and shopping centres can provide a more diverse offering,” says Majija.

As landlords, we must embrace this and explore options that bring convenience and safety to shoppers. We can already see that home deliveries for fast food operators and restaurants, for instance, is gaining momentum during this lockdown. I think this trend will continue and may offer opportunities for retailers and landlords to collaborate across different retail channels,” he says.

In these challenging times, the focus needs to be on agility and responding to the fast-changing needs of customers to keep them safe, while still being sensitive to the operational needs of retailers who have been eagerly waiting the return of shoppers.

 “We will survive this crisis as long we keep working together and ensuring that staff, consumer and community demands for goods are balanced with the need for higher health precautions,” concludes Majija.