Shopping centres are no longer the money spinners they used to be judging by latest results announcements from mall owners such as Growthpoint Properties, Hyprop Investments and Attacq. Management teams of JSE-listed property stocks all tell a similar story: returns on malls are being squeezed by growing competition from new centres, weaker consumer spending and retailers closing shop or cutting back on store expansion plans. Trading density growth (sales turnover/m²), a key performance metric that measures the strength of retail spending, has slowed from an average 7%-10% two to three years ago to the low single digits in many upmarket malls across SA. In some centres, trading densities have dipped into negative growth territory. Attacq, which owns stakes in the Mall of Africa at the Waterfall precinct north of Sandton, Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria and Garden Route Mall in George, among others, reported average trading density growth on Tuesday of 5.3% for the year to June. Though tha...

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