ATTACQ’s Mall of Africa, which opened on in Midrand on Thursday, might be the biggest mall built over a single phase in SA, but Durban’s Gateway and Sandton City are larger, albeit following extensions carried over the years.
Still, the 130,000m² Mall of Africa, which has around 300 stores, is much smaller than many malls in the developing world.
SM Prime Holdings’ Mall of Asia in Pasay, Philippines, is being extended from 400,000m² to 700,000m² and is set to have 1,300 stores.
Stanlib’s head of listed property funds Keillen Ndlovu says the Mall of Dubai in the UAE is about 502,000m² in size.
In the rest of Africa, Egypt’s Cairo Festival City Mall boasts 168,000m² of space while the Mall of Arabia, also in Cairo, has about 180,000m² of gross lettable area.
While there is a healthy demand for shopping centres in South Africa — new centres are built regularly — the country’s middle and upper classes are just not large enough for larger malls to be sustainable.
There are about 40 shopping centres sized 20,000m² or more that have been announced or are under construction, according to the Southern African Shopping Centre Directory of 2015.
Patrick Flanagan, head of development company Flanagan & Gerard, says developers must be careful where they build malls in an already saturated market.
“I think developers need to be careful. There are many shopping centres that have been announced which just won’t be sustainable in certain areas,” he says.
“Quite a few smaller centres are difficult to tenant in a slow growth economy. We are also not a nation of shop owners like in the UK. We tend to rather shop at large retailers, so bringing more convenience centres to market can be risky.”