The future of mixed-use shopping
The challenge facing traditional shops has arguably been overstated. It’s true that they won’t remain relevant and profitable if they keep doing what they’ve always done, but they’re still a long way off from being outstripped in favour of online shopping and nothing else. However, they are having to adapt to the changing needs of a new generation by evolving their offerings.
Mixed-use environments have the potential to play a determining role in this transformation. There’s so much to do in these locations – shops, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, health clubs, offices, residential apartments, hotels, etc. – that it engages people of all ages, interests and backgrounds. This widespread appeal is the reason why mixed-use developments might well determine the future of shops and our overall experience of shopping and going out, because businesses jostle for position and space, visitor footfall remains consistently high, and dwell time rarely dips.
Convenience is a huge factor. If a retailer is located within a mixed-use location it benefits from whatever reason brings people into the broader development as a whole. Whether someone lives there, works there, is visiting, exercising, eating out or something else – they probably need something from the shops. And having everything on-site, within easy walkable distance, as is the case with these types of precincts, makes it far more likely that they’ll spend their money here, instead of going somewhere else, which would require time, travel, having to find parking again, etc. It makes no sense to go to all of that trouble.
It becomes clear how a large development like the Amdec Group’s R15 billion Harbour Arch could bring radical change to Cape Town. It will rejuvenate the area in its immediate vicinity, and present opportunities for scores of retailers and businesses by way of its vast size and scope. A development of this scale – 200,000m2 of developable space on a 5.8-hectare site – has the ability to offer 360˚ services, including leisure and lifestyle options, shopping convenience, hospitality, office space and accommodation both in terms of residential apartments but also hotels. Not only does it establish a new urban community of its own – something the Amdec Group does especially well, for example at their Melrose Arch property in Johannesburg – but it also creates an urban economy because it’s a hive of activity, it creates jobs (both during and after construction), provides scores of things to do, and plenty of people to see. The cosmopolitan crowds that come together in places like these have disposable income and are prepared to use it to keep up their conspicuous consumption. These are the factors that will keep driving the retail landscape forward into the future.