Lockdown turns malls into ghost towns

Since the national lockdown was implemented on March 27, malls across Cape Town have seen a significant plunge in foot traffic. Pictured is a deserted Canal Walk food court.

The Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown have turned malls into ghost towns.

Last Friday, the usual end-of-week hustle and bustle at malls in the area was replaced by cordoned-off parking bays, closed shops and gloomy, empty corridors.

Only essential-goods stores, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and banks, were open, but full clothing racks had a forlorn look about them in the darkened clothing stores. And no tempting smells drifted from the restaurants.

Apart from security guards, Canal Walk was empty, its abandoned marble-tiled walkways hinting more at a mausoleum than a mall.

There is limited access to the centre with only entrance 1 and 4 open. Entrance 12 is open for pedestrians and all parking is free.

“Centre management is corresponding with all tenants with regard to rental relief proposals to find joint and workable solutions that will sustain our businesses, protect jobs and benefit the country through these challenging times,” said Canal Walk shopping centre chief executive officer, Gavin Wood.

Canal Walk is working with the Gift of the Givers Foundation on a national in-centre food drive to help the needy during the crisis.

Food-collection points are accessible outside Checkers, Game, Pick * Pay and Woolworths.

“Customers can assist us by adding canned and dry food items to the collection point, when doing their own essential shopping,” said Mr Wood.

Aadilah Ryklief, centre manager at Bayside Mall, noted a 60% drop in foot traffic.

Only 11 of the mall’s 100 tenants are trading as essential services.

“The Covid-19 pandemic, and the lockdown period that ensued, has had an enormously negative impact on our retail tenants’ ability to make rental payments across the board,” Ms Ryklief said.

“Growthpoint Properties, which owns and manages Bayside Mall, is part of the Property Industry Group aimed at establishing common agreement for retail rental relief in this difficult time,” she said.

All parking at the mall is free during the lockdown and more bays for seniors have been allocated close to the entrance.

There are also hand-sanitiser stations at entrances and key areas inside.

“We would like to urge the community to continue to support our essential-trading tenants, particularly post lockdown as these businesses and the people they employ contribute to our local economy,” she said.

Paddocks Shopping Centre and Table Bay Mall yielded similar experiences with empty parking lots and empty shops.

For more information on open stores, trading hours and campaigns at Canal Walk, go to www.canalwalk.co.za