Mall owner Fortress sees pick-up in demand for goods at stores following easing of lockdown

Posted On Thursday, 28 May 2020 14:00 Published by
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Shoppers slowly began returning to shopping centres and malls after lockdown restrictions were eased slightly on May 1 and activity is expected to pick up further when the country moves to level 3 lockdown  from June 1 says Fortress REIT, the owner of 60 malls across South Africa.


“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,” says Vuso Majija, Head of Retail Property at Fortress.  What stands out is that mall owners are taking exceptional precautions to educate both workers and customers regarding the prevention of the Coronavirus.

"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’s safe to visit the centres”.


Retailers have eagerly awaited the return of shoppers who can probably expect some value-added deals as retailers offer promotions on goods.

“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. Even under Level 3, restaurants, bars, gyms, hair and beauty salons are among the stores which will remain shut.

“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.  “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.

Last modified on Thursday, 28 May 2020 14:12

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