Property Flash


February 20 2024

Retail trading in December 2023 far exceeded that for November, suggesting a loss of momentum for Black Friday deals and the re-establishment of December as the prime festive season month among South African consumers.

This was according to the Clur Index, an industry leader in property data collection.

“What happened in the last two months of 2023 reveals a change in dynamic,” said Belinda Clur, managing director of Clur International. 

This index is derived from The Clur Report, an asset management industry standard, tracking performance for listed and unlisted property funds (at more than four million square metres of prime retail space) in over 100 centres across SA and Namibia.

“As Black Friday gained popularity a few years ago, it led to a month of deep discounts and effectively extended the festive season beyond only the December month. In this context, it made sense to view the festive season on a combined November and December basis,” said Clur.

“However, 2023 has broken this merged pattern and has revealed a significant split in the performance of these two important months in the retail calendar, suggesting that the festive season has now redefined itself back to a more traditional position of only being December,” she said.

The index told a story of two extremes in trading densities in November and December.

“An analysis of trading density levels at more than 100 shopping centres illustrates the weakness in November sales and growth in December performance reported by Statistics SA and in trading statements from listed retailing groups and property funds such as TFG, Mr Price Group, Woolworths and Vukile Property Fund.

“It also underscores the view that the consumer position is recalibrating. A strong desire for balance in harsh economic times is making shoppers more resistant to enticements and pressurized shopping,” she said.

The Clur Index for December 2023, on an isolated basis, closed at an annualised trading density of R65,622 pe rsquare metre and 7.5% year-on-year growth. It therefore outperformed December’s consumer price index by 2.4%.

It also significantly overshadowed full year and combined festive season trading densities and growth. These were R40, 899 per square metre and 4.9% growth for the full 2023 year and R55,007per square metre and 4,4% growth for the combined festive season.

“On the other hand, the Clur Index for November 2023, on an isolated basis, came in at R44,490 per square metre and 0.4% year-on-year growth. It underperformed November’s CPI by 5.1%,” said Clur.

“In fact, during December, growth across all Clur Index shopping centre formats – from the large super regionals to smaller centres – outperformed CPI for the month. The opposite is true of November, when all shopping centre formats year-on-year growth underperformed CPI. “

Clur said that in November, regional centres had the best performance relative to CPI of -4.6%, and in December super-regionals out-performed CPI the most by 2.9%. In December smaller centres outperformed CPI by 1.8% and underperformed CPI by 6% in November.

While the Clur All Centres Index contracted for both months against the prior year’s growth, the contraction was far more severe in November 2023, shrinking by 8.8%, relative to December 2023’s lesser contraction of 2.7%.

Smaller centres showed a strong contraction in November 2023 of 10%, but then showed a growth expansion of 1.5% in December 2023 relative to 2022. Larger centres showed a far less pronounced contraction in December of 4.8% against November’s 8.6%.

Larger centres showed the highest annualised trading densities for both periods, at R71,107 per square metre in December 2023 and R47,473 per square metre in November 2023.

Clur said super-regional centres top-performed at an exceptional R81,919per square metre in December and R53,487per square metre in November.

“In December they also showed the highest y/y growth of 8%, and in November regionals showed the highest year-on-year growth across all formats of 0.9%.

“Over the past few years, while December has always been more competitive than November in terms of relative trading density by about 35%, this performance gap grew to 47.5% in 2023, further pointing to the return of December as the festive season month,” said Clur.

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