What retail consumers really want

Apart from clean and safe shopping centres, South African consumers want a good overall experience when visiting a shopping centre.
This is according to the Broll Retail Consumer Survey 2014, launched in August at the 18th Annual Congress of the South African Council of Shopping Centres in Cape Town.

The survey was conducted by a third party, IPSOS, and was based on a sample size of 1 000 individuals. The survey was undertaken throughout South Africa in order to understand the retail consumer market in the country.

Of those surveyed, 38% strongly agree that an overall shopping experience is important when thinking about where to shop, while some use social media to keep up to date on special offers, events and new shops at shopping centres.

“Security is a major aspect in shopping centres, because when a robbery takes place for example, shoppers are weary of visiting that centre and may not visit the centre for a while thus impacting on centre foot traffic,” says Elaine Wilson, divisional director of Research and Marketing at Broll Property Group, which is part of the CBRE affiliate network.

Wilson explains that when it comes to shopping, consumers are spoilt for choice: whether they choose to visit a regional or community shopping centre remains a matter of personal preference.

For example, while consumers want clean, and safe shopping centres (factors that rank highly when considering where to shop), South African consumers also want shopping centres that offer ample parking facilities, a range of product and service offerings, and the presence of independent shops and entertainment facilities among others.

Furthermore, the report shows that consumers have seen improvements in most frequented centres over the last three years, with 36% noting that these centres have got a lot better while 3% did not use the same shopping centre over the past three years.

Survey respondents noted five main areas of improvement and these are:
* Renovation of retail property (47%);
* Increased sizes of shopping centres with more shops (39%);
* More and improved catering facilities (29%);
* Addition of new international brands (28%); and
* More entertainment facilities (18%).

In terms of “shopping research”, South African consumers make use of online methods when browsing for products, looking for something specific and when checking prices or product details. However, notes Wilson, the majority of consumers still prefer to visit the physical bricks and mortar to buy and compare product prices. That said, according to the survey, online shopping is expected to increase in the near future as consumers get used to the idea.

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