“While COVID-19 remains a reality, our open-air restaurant and shopping spaces are clearly leading shopper returns,” reports Adelene van der Westhuizen, Asset Manager with Atterbury. The company has always believed that outside spaces are an integral part of most retail centres and these spaces are proving their worth as a key element of the retail experience during this extraordinary time in history.
“Atterbury included great open-air spaces in many of its developments right from the start, so we are well positioned to benefit from this trend,” reports Adelene.
“South Africa has glorious weather and people want to enjoy it. Thus, it is crucial for us to find the correct balance between inside and outside retail. Our centres’ outdoor spaces help our retailers and restauranteurs to make the most of our sunny climate,” she adds.
Signature outdoor experiences
Atterbury’s portfolio of self-developed retail assets with signature outdoor experiences includes Castle Gate Lifestyle Centre, The Club, which is part of the Old East Precinct with The Village in Pretoria, Newtown Junction in Johannesburg, as well as Mall of Africa in Midrand, Grove Mall in Windhoek and Dunes Mall in Walvis Bay.
At these destinations, Atterbury creates al fresco experiences typically decorated and activated with public art, parks, trees and greenery, water features and children’s play areas. In addition, they include many thoughtful special touches that create little visual points of interest in unexpected places, sparking the joy of discovery as they are revealed along a guest’s journey.
“It is clear that people feel most comfortable using outdoor areas while also favouring open-air places that are inviting and energised, yet relaxing,” says Adelene.
Castle Gate opened on 26 November 2020 and has excelled at attracting families and locals with its inviting and enjoyable dining piazza and tailor-made kids play area.
Old East Precinct saw a rapid rebound in patrons, with its many and varied outdoor options. For instance, in September, October and November 2020, restaurants in this precinct outperformed their trading for the same months in 2019 – some even showing double-digit growth.
“All credit must go to the many restaurant tenants across Atterbury’s portfolio who managed their businesses exceptionally well during the different levels of restrictions. Most made full use of all their exterior and interior space to achieve the best capacity while staying within all regulations and helping customers feel safe and comfortable.
“We have worked closely with our restaurant tenants with outdoor areas to optimise this advantage and support their positive trading. Atterbury strives to encourage, motivate and facilitate our tenants to use all the space, ideas and innovation at their disposal to maximise the benefits of their setting, and together we’ve seen good results,” confirms Adelene.
Understanding the market needs
Atterbury believes it is important for its asset management and development management teams to collaborate when crafting the blueprint for any project. “Good asset management begins with knowing your market and your tenants and then creating assets that appeal to both. We apply our experience and use data-driven insights about shopping patterns from sources such as Fatti, which tracks and analyses shopper behaviours,” explains Adelene. “When assets are developed in this way, they benefit from having the best possible starting point and are a pleasure to manage from day one.”
Of course, retail is dynamic and there is always room for improvement, so Atterbury continuously monitors its shopping centres for potential areas of enhancement to optimise performance. However, with their good start, only small tweaks are usually required and these often relate to centre operations that can be applied by on-site management teams.
For more information visit: www.atterbury.co.za
Main image: Mall of Africa in Midrand with its exceptional outdoor experience.
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