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If you thought shopping malls are only getting bigger, you would be right. A study published by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Real Estate South Africa on behalf of the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), has found that the average size of shopping centres have steadily increased in size since the 1990s.

Bigger shopping centreAccording to the research, centres slated for completion between 2017 and 2020 are significantly larger than those developed during the 1990s and 2000s. This trend towards larger centres may be explained by developers opting for larger formats in order to dominate its immediate catchment area and attract a higher proportion of national tenants, thus strengthening the centre’s position within its catchment area, the report said.

Proposed shopping centres planned are all now 100% larger compared to those developed during the 2000s, the study found. As of July 2017, the South African retail development pipeline was around 1.9 million square metres across 68 centres, with the bulk of this planned for completion in 2018.

The research also found that South Africa is sub-Saharan Africa’s most saturated retail market, representing 88% of the available space in the region. According to the SA Shopping Council, South Africa has the sixth highest volume of shopping centres in the world.

Despite the slowing of retail development, the South African retail market has expanded significantly over the past few decades, increasing to 23.4 million square metres at the end of 2016. Since 2010, retail stock has grown by an average of 17.3% with 32 new centres per year.

“MSCI’s latest research, based on SACSC’s shopping centre directory, provides a unique perspective of the linkage between expected retail mall space, economic activity and population densities. Given a highly competitive environment for malls in specific nodes, we believe that centre selection within the retail segments will become increasingly important,” says Phil Barttram, Executive Director at MSCI.

“There are fundamental drivers of mall defensiveness and it will be the malls that best exploit these factors that will prove to be more resilient in the times ahead.

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