South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, Vol 11, No 1 (2008)

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The impact of shopping mall development on small township retailers

Andre Ligthelm

Abstract


The retail sector forms a critical element of a community’s economic and social welfare. It provides people with choices and services. These choices were until recently very limited in township areas. The pre-1994 retail landscape was dominated by small, often informal businesses offering basic household necessities to relatively low income earners. This has resulted in township residents’ preference to shop outside townships, known as ‘outshopping’.

Rapid income growth of township residents since 1994 resulted in a substantial increase in consumer expenditure in these areas, known as ‘in-bound shopping’. This lucrative emerging market forms the last retail frontier in South Africa and is being explored by national retailers, especially supermarket chains. This article is aimed at establishing the impact of shopping mall development in townships on the traditional small township retailers including spaza/tuck shops.

The net balance sheet on the impact of shopping mall development on small township retailers clearly suggests a decline in the township retailers’ market share. A change in small business model towards, inter alia, effective customer service with a small dedicated assortment of merchandise, satisfaction of emergency needs, selling in small units and extension of credit facilities may result in the survival of some small township retailers (albeit often at a smaller turnover).


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EISSN 2222-3436 (Online)