The data was collected from Kiwi Property’s shopping centres across New Zealand: Sylvia Park and LynnMall in Auckland, Centre Place in Hamilton, The Plaza in Palmerston North, North City in Porirua and Northlands in Christchurch.
The category that surprisingly came out on top was cinemas.
Cinema operators were the top performers in sales for 2015, with sales increasing 9.6 percent. This is perhaps a confirmation of people flocking to shopping centres in search of an experience, rather than just a quick browse.
The sales were also helped along by huge blockbusters being released, such as latest James Bond film, Spectre, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as LynnMall’s launch of Reading Cinema and its $10 standard tickets.
Commercial services sales (travel and telecommunications) were in hot pursuit, up 9.4 percent, while pharmacy and cosmetics were up 6.8 percent, personal services up 5.1 percent and fashion up 1.6 percent.
Chief executive Chris Gudgeon says forecasts predicting consumer spending would grow robustly in 2015 due to improving incomes, low mortgage rates, migration and strong house prices came true.
“What we have seen over the past year – and even more pronounced during the Christmas period – is consumers approaching their discretionary spend with less caution than we have seen in recent years,” Gudgeon said.
Other strong performers were department stores, which had 6 percent growth.
Kiwi Property attributed this to be predominantly driven from Kmart, which it says experienced double digit growth.
This was a result of shoppers responding positively to its store upgrade and merchandise rationalisation programme.
Food sales were up 3.5 percent, while specialty retail sales were up 2.7 percent.
Gudgeon says the real opportunity for shopping malls is to be a social enabler and a place for interaction.
“We are continually refining our retail mix, with our emphasis in recent years on providing our shoppers with greater diversity of food – including both indoor and outdoor dining options – as well as improving the availability of leisure and entertainment facilities,” he said.
In November last year, Kiwi Property launched the brand-new The Brickworks outdoor dining lane and Reading Cinema.
A month later in December, sales had grown 11.9 percent.
Gudgeon says the launch of developments like LynnMall help to redefine the way communities socialise.
He says West Aucklanders that may have previously gone to the city for an urban dining experience now have that available locally.
Kiwi Property’s moves reflects international trends of tying retail stores with experiences, like eateries, bars and cinemas, to make shopping centres become a destination.