Retail deadlines and trendlines of the Covid-19 pandemic

The closing down of big box retailers at some shopping centres is a cause for concern as it confirms the current tough trading market.

We are in the fifth week of national lockdown and millions of South Africans are desperate to get their hands on one item they forgot to stock up on. Most retail sectors have been closed since the 27th of March 2020 and even though most grocery stores, banks and pharmacies were operating throughout the first two phases of the lockdown period and seemed crowded with people, activity decreases substantially (in both essential stores and shopping centres).

As retail behavior specialists, Fatti have been monitoring the changes in shopping behavior during this unique and unfamiliar time for landlords, retailers and shoppers. Fatti has summarized some of the key trends detected throughout the different phases and the effects thereof on different retail categories.

Behavior in the unknown

The biggest question landlords and retailers face is whether South Africans will take the risk to voluntarily visit stores throughout the phased lockdown. Part of the answer can be found in the activity trends the week before the lockdown was announced.

South Africa was already in a panic when the President gave his first national speech. Some individuals willingly chose to still visit specific retail categories whilst others completely avoided public spaces. No one was aware that a stringent nationwide lockdown was underway, so for some, it was business as usual. There is, however, the informed and cautious group of people that understood the potential consequences of a ‘status quo lifestyle’ (social interaction in the workplace and public spaces) and these individuals clearly influenced regular trend lines.

By Michelle Jooste, Head of Analytics at Fatti.