Successful retail centres should stay open later to boost sales because modern South African lifestyles have changed. Opening hours still lag behind the needs of the consumers who support them, believes Marius Muller, CEO of shopping centre investor Pareto. “It is important for malls and retailers to see the big picture when it comes to being open for shoppers,” says Muller.

He points out that many regional centres, including some of the largest and most popular, still have standard minimum hours until 6pm, which doesn’t make the cut for many consumers. He uses the example of a parent who works until 5pm, then navigates through peak-hour traffic to collect their children from after-school care. Many consumers also work unconventional hours, from top executives and professionals to nursery school teachers and taxi drivers.

“The point is that, to make the sale, you need to be open for shoppers when they are able to shop,” he says. “It comes down to knowing your customer, understanding how they live, work and play, and what times are most convenient for them to shop with you. It also means that retailers and malls need to work together to find their optimal opening times.”

Pareto is one of the country’s leading retail property industry players and owns, among others, Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Pretoria, Cresta Shopping Centre in Gauteng, The Pavilion in Durban and Mimosa Mall in Bloemfontein.