Cape Town - Despite Covid-19’s impact on the economy, the point-of-sale tills in Cape Town’s shopping malls and retailers are jingling all the way as the festive spending bug bites consumers.
This at a time when the Western Cape is in the fourth wave of the pandemic with infections increasing rapidly every day and while the provincial Health Department is urging the public to avoid crowds.
Provincial Health Department spokesperson Marika Champion said: “If you must still do your festive shopping and cannot do it online, choose a time when the shops are not crowded.
“Ask one person in your household to do the shopping and do not go as a family.
“If you are using public transport or taxis, make sure you keep the windows open and wear your mask.”
Meanwhile, Google’s mobility data showed that the number of feet through the doors of South Africa’s retail establishments remained high, despite the rapid surge in Covid-19 infections.
Compared with the data from the preceding month, foot traffic continued to improve in the 30 days ending December 17.
The data showed that visits to retail stores were up 16% and trips to supermarkets and pharmacies increased by 41% compared with the pre-Covid-19 benchmark.
At the same time the footfall to workplaces had dropped by 35%.
Absa economist Miyelani Maluleke said: “Daily mobility data have remained elevated since the announcement of Omicron, with increased footfall during the Black Friday weekend November 26 to 28, in particular.”
V&A Waterfront spokesperson Donald Kau said the mall was “certainly busier than last year” when the lockdown forced people to stay home.
“In keeping with the recent trends since the end of the third wave of Covid-19, we’ve continued to see numbers above last year in both footfall and sales.
“They are coming to shop and to enjoy our open-air attractions and restaurants,” Kau said.
He said a combination of the holiday season, schools having closed and the last weekend before Christmas coupled with the good weather resulted in the V&A Waterfront benefiting from a high number of visitors.
“The months of November and so far into December have seen significant increases in visitor numbers and this past weekend saw Friday, Saturday and Sunday record the busiest days of the year, pushing our average daily footfall of close to 60 000 people per day,” he said.
At Canal Walk it was a similar story. The mall’s events manager, Amanda McCarthy, said that while 2021 had been a challenging year, there had been an increase in the number of shoppers, particularly during the festive season.
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jacques Moolman said: “Judging from the amount of motor traffic on the roads and pedestrian traffic in the shops, it would seem that the festive season has at least begun.
“Whether spending is up or down on previous years will only become clearer towards the end of the season.”
He said the pandemic had kept people away from the shops and malls during the year, but that as Christmas approached this changed, though it was too soon for the Chamber to accurately measure just how much.
The Woolworths press office said in a statement: “We are optimistic for a good Christmas as we have used the learnings and experience from last year and the impact of Covid-19 to plan effectively for our peak season trade and respond efficiently to our customer needs.”