Low business force closure of shops

via Low business force closure of shops | The Herald November 16, 2015

Lisa Shirichena Herald Reporter
Low business is forcing a number of shops in Harare, mainly those in retail clothing, to close as many city centre customers move down market, and those seeking quality move to suburban centres.

Most tenants interviewed, including some who have already abandoned the shops, said they had accumulated huge debts over the months.

A survey by The Herald in Harare last Friday showed that a number of tenants had deserted shopping malls like Eastgate, Karigamombe Centre, the First Street Mall and Joina City.

A number of shops are also deserted Chitungwiza Town Centre, Westgate Shopping Mall and High Glen Shopping Centre outside the city centre.

In an interview, one of the tenants who abandoned business at Karigamombe Centre, where more than five shops have closed, said the major reason was that their businesses were facing down-market competition.

“I was paying $2 000 per month as rent,” he said.

“I used to afford it without a hassle a few years ago, but customers started looking for other sources of clothing because cash is becoming hard to come by.

“Some people who used to buy quality stuff from this shop are no longer concerned about quality and have resorted to buying low quality and cheap clothes from other sources like flea markets.”

Karigamombe Centre is managed by Dawn Consultancy Trust whose senior property manager Mr Albert Mangwiro confirmed that tenants were burdened with overdue rents dating back to last year.

“These tenants have moved out because there is now low business at the mall, not because of high rentals,” he said.

“As owners of that mall, we have not increased rents since last year. Some tenants have requested for rental reductions and we have not refused, but their applications are still to be considered. Payments for rentals are negotiated depending on the shop and it’s usually $15 per square metre.”

Mr Mangwiro said vendors were in stiff competition with the shop tenants and the closure of AfriAsia Bank at the mall worsened the situation as the shops lost customers who used to frequent the bank.

Rents in the city centre are lower than those in the higher-end suburban shopping centres and the major problem facing retailers, especially those who used to cater for the quality market, is the move of their former customers to the expanding suburban shopping centres.

Most properties in the city’s rentals range from $14 to $20 per square metre.