JOHANNESBURG: South African shoppers are looking for a new experience from shopping malls, according to research which suggests they are moving away from large formulaic stores and favouring smaller niche outlets.

This is the conclusion reached by Clur Research International, a consultancy operating in the retail property sector, which has analysed consumer behaviour at prime retail sites using RetailLive, a proprietary interpretive early warning system for shopping centres.

"This crucial trend has implications for flexibility, sizing, mix, design, rentals and retail classifications," said Belinda Clur, MD of Clur Research International. "All of these need careful consideration in order to drive market share and profitability."

Previous research by Clur has indicated that up to 25% of South Africa's final consumption expenditure of households may be driven by shopping centre spend, BizCommunity reported.

The changing face of South Africa's malls was also apparent in a survey of 1,025 consumers, undertaken by real estate advisor CBRE and Broll Property Group, which highlighted that the choice of retail offerings was far from being the only factor in choosing a shopping destination.

Half of shoppers saw stopping for something to eat and drink as an important part of the experience, and 24% indicated that the choice of food and drink on offer was an important element when choosing where to go.

Cleanliness, security, price of products and availability of coffee shops and free Wi-Fi were other factors.

Clur's research identified seven trends of relevance to South Africa's shopping centres, including a rejection of replication, a desire for convenience, the growth of "personal branding" and luxury, and the development of malls as a "third place" outside of home and work.

Data sourced from BizCommunity, eProp; additional content by Warc staff