The shopping centre industry is booming and shopping centres are built and planned in
areas where previously there were no formal shopping opportunities. The profile of the
typical South African shopper or consumer has changed from the traditional white affluent
consumer to a diverse mix of heterogeneous cultures and nationalities and saw
exponential growth in the spending power of the black middle class consumer.
The focus of the study was to investigate consumers’ shopping centre behaviours, with
specific reference to the attractiveness of the shopping centre, travel distance, patronage
frequency and transportation used. The primary objective of this study was to determine
the perceptions of black consumers regarding the attractiveness of the Riverside Mall, a
shopping centre in Nelspruit, the capital city in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.
Various secondary objectives investigating possible differences relating to demographic
profiles and other shopping centre behaviours and the perceptions of the consumers
regarding the attractiveness factors were also investigated. The secondary objectives also
included grouping the individual attractiveness attributes into factors as well as assessing
the ability of the attractiveness factors to predict the overall shopping centre attractiveness.
A two-stage research design, also called pluralistic design, was used for this study. Phase
one was a qualitative design consisting of focus groups and personal interviews; and stage
two a quantitative design. A total of 400 black shoppers were interviewed using a selfadministered
questionnaire that was distributed within the shopping centre during the
The descriptive statistics are reported as well as regression analysis, factor analysis,
ANOVA, Mann-Whitney U tests and Kruskal-Wallis tests results. Findings from the research indicated that respondents visit shopping centres on a regular
basis for shopping, browsing and socialising. The respondents indicated that the shopping
centre was overall attractive and the individual shopping centre attractiveness attributes
were grouped into four factors after the factor analysis: entertainment and facilities, quality
and atmospherics, convenience and way-finding and decor.
No differences on the perceptions of attractiveness factors between male and female
consumers could be found. The traditional view of male and females differing in their
enjoyment of shopping or time spent in a shopping centre seem not be substantiated in
this research but the results however confirm that due to several possible reasons, such
as duel income families, men are more exposed to shopping and visiting shopping centres
and as such display similar behaviour than females. The age group 25 - 40 years,
indicated differences in their perception of the attractiveness factors. These shoppers are
a distinctive and discerning group and their perceptions of shopping centre attractiveness
are different from shoppers in other age groups.
The regression analysis revealed that Factor 1 ‘Entertainment and Facilities’ had the
biggest effect on the overall attractiveness of the shopping mall.
The constant changes in consumer preferences and needs necessitate a constant reevaluation
and updating of the retail offerings. The challenge will be to provide a unique
and novel destination, where consumers can meet to satisfy their need for social
interaction, whilst engaging in their shopping. It is recommended that shopping centre
managers should conduct regular climate studies in their environments to enable them to
identify problems and suggestions from the respondents. Various strategies to improve
marketing, infrastructure, entertainment, providing variety as well as creating a sustainable
competitive advantage was suggested.
Recommendations for further research include the need to explore the possibility that the
cultural influence might cause both male and female shoppers to experience shopping in a