The rise of the mega-mall works for some but not for everyone. The reaction to the modern-day supersizing of the shopping experience has been to go small. Little pockets of shops springing up in neighbourhoods and suburbs, where it’s quick and easy to stop and get what you need. A mixed-use development falls somewhere in-between these two ends of the shopping spectrum and manages to give retailers the benefits of both worlds.
In a city such as Johannesburg, people gravitate towards mixed-use environments, like Melrose Arch, where they can find their daily necessities – not only in terms of purchasing what they require, but also getting what they want in entertainment and relaxation. Demographics tell us that this is a cosmopolitan crowd that bring with them spending power and disposable income, which is where the benefits lie for retailers.
A person might stop here to do clothes shopping, but then also grab a bite to eat, or get things to make dinner at home. Someone could come for after-work drinks that then turn into dinner. Or a person might stop for a workout, then get breakfast and coffee before work. All of these are catered for within a mixed-use precinct like Melrose Arch, and you can see how the different types of establishments gain from each other’s presence.
In Johannesburg, safety and security are very high priorities. As one of the safest public places in the country, Melrose Arch makes a strong case for mixed-use because it can justifiably lay claim to offering comprehensive protection for people and property. The benefits to retailers are twofold: their places of business are kept safe, but crucially, their customers also feel safe. This makes it much more likely that they’ll return. These measures are made to work so well by layering different ones in order to provide all-encompassing solutions, e.g. foot patrols, CCTV cameras, panic buttons, number-plate recognition, emergency and medical services, etc.
Apart from cross-pollinating consumers and superior safety and security, infrastructure is another reason for retailers to locate in mixed-use environments. The fact that a lot of infrastructure already exists, means a business can be up and running quickly and usually quite cost-effectively too.
Then there is connectivity. Not a retailer, nor a consumer, can get by without fast, reliable connectivity nowadays, and this too is amply provided at a place like Melrose Arch, where properties are fibre-enabled and comprehensive wi-fi coverage is standard. These factors, and many more, constitute the mutual gains inherent in establishing a retail operation in a mixed-use property environment. Because just as it makes sense to live here (residential property) and work here (commercial property), it also makes sense to be a proprietor and run a business here.