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Retail environments

Poverty breeds crime. It also breeds the need for escape. There is a bar in my neighbourhood which attracts youth at least some of whom are not averse to opportunistic crime to finance their escape from their grim reality. If I wasn’t so angry about a recent mugging at knife point, I would feel sorry for the kids.
The particular shopping centre has two watering holes. One is well-heeled. The other is a place where the kids hang out. The kids place attracts youth who don’t live in the neighbourhood.
They do not have a stake in the neighbourhood, so they seize opportunities and mobile phones wherever they can find them.
The crime does not escape the notice of the residents of the neighbourhood. There was even a break-in to a car parked outside the pub for older people, which led to a petition. Little has changed, but it will. Because of the bar for the kids, and the youth who commit crime, the shopping centre will become less profitable. Who wants to go to a place to relax and chat when there are criminals waiting outside?
This is a neighbourhood phenomenon, but not unusual. Crime is known to drive customers away and shopkeepers to demand security from their landlord. I suspect this was also the case at a large local mall a couple of months ago.

The quality of a retail environment has a direct link to profitability.
A crime-free environment is not the only requirement for profitability. Decisions must be taken holistically and consider as many of the shoppers’ needs and how to satisfy them.
Consider for instance the requirements of adult shoppers. Some may have families. These will be attracted to a mall with opportunities for children. Children will be attracted to a toy store, play areas, cinemas and games arcades. Parents will want shops where they can make purchases for their children, and areas where they can relax with their children nearby. Adults with infants will be attracted to clean, safe changing and feeding areas. Adults without children will want areas where they can relax before or after shopping without children.
All will want as many shopping opportunities as possible so that they don’t have to travel to many places to do their shopping. Those shopping opportunities should also include shopping for recreation. Most will want accessible parking. Now what about accessibility for all-important taxis and pedestrian access?
Shopping hours also play an important role. If one shop closes early while others stay open late, the closing of that store devalues the overall shopping area during the hours it is closed.
Not all shoppers are able to do their purchases between eight and five, so weekend shopping hours become a mattrer of importance.
The nature of the stores and the match to the incomes of shoppers is also an important factor. So will the quality. A cut-price retailer or a poorly-stocked retailer can have a major impact on the perception of value of the high income shopping area, for instance. The opposite can be true of a shopping area that sets out to provide low budget opportunities to purchasers.
In order to decide how a shopping area should be populated, the owners of the area need to hold a matrix of factors in mind. The absence of one of the requirements for the area will affect the profitability of all tenants in the shopping area.
One interesting point is that retailers have to consider the same matrix of factors as landlords. In this way, landlords and retailers have to agree and match themselves to develop shopping areas that are successful within their demographic and income niches.
Namibia has only reached part of the way in its understanding of shopping areas. If it does not improve, landlords have a lack of options for retailers which can populate shopping areas. The evolution of local shopping spaces is an ongoing thing. As each change occurs, the goalposts are shifted to the benefit of customers and retailers.

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