The extent to which SA's shoppers are cutting back on retail therapy is underscored by the uninspiring results reported by a number of JSE-listed mall owners in recent weeks. Most have seen a slowdown in sales or trading density growth (turnover per m²) to the low single digits versus an average 6%-8% still typically achieved five years ago. Gauteng malls are seemingly taking most of the pain — perhaps unsurprisingly given the sheer number of new centres that has been added to an already saturated market in recent years. Hyprop Investments, historically the go-to stock for anyone looking for exposure to SA’s prime shopping centres, last week reported an overall drop of 0.6% in trading densities in its nine malls for the six months to December. That’s the first time in many years that Hyprop’s trading densities have dipped into negative growth territory. Only three of its malls (Clearwater Mall on the West Rand, Cape Gate in Cape Town and Atterbury Value Mart in Pretoria) recorded po...

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