Tourist boom pulls crowds but not profits
Numbers indicate bumper season
TOURISTS have flocked to the Mother City for the festive season, but early indications are that there has been very little wild spending, with profit margins suffering as a result.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce says while figures they have received to date show a high turnover of stock, profits remain low.
This, according to chamber president Michael Bagraim, indicates that while stores were inundated with shoppers, they were choosing to spend on cheaper goods.
On the tourism front, Bagraim said Cape Town had “a far better season than was expected”.
“We’ve had many first-time visitors, as well as returning visitors this year,” he said.
Bagraim’s view is, however, that people-spend is not nearly as important as the number of people spending money – which is showing a healthy rise for the city.
Many of the big retailers approached this week said it was too early to quantify their festive season profits, but most indicated they had experienced high turnover levels among certain products.
Pick n Pay chief executive officer Nick Badminton said they were very pleased with December sales, and they had seen some products performing especially well. “Our fresh range performed particularly well, and it’s clear that customers not only took advantage of the long weekends to shop, but spent more time doing their shopping – and more entertaining at home with family and friends. Traditional fare, particularly Cornish hens and turkeys, did well and mince pies performed very well. Toys performed very well too.”
Badminton added the chain’s Smart Shopper programme was well used by customers over the festive season, with many taking advantage of the double and triple points promotions.
Anyone shopping in any of the city’s major malls can attest to the huge crowds, and although most could not yet report exact numbers, the V&A Waterfront estimated a 30 percent increase this year in visitor numbers.
Public relations manager Donoven Gloy said they got an early start to the holiday season, with the hosting of the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Yacht Race. The race, which takes place every three years, brought many people to the Waterfront, ultimately raising income.
“Every year we expect 22.5million visitors, and this year we have already hit that number, with many more still expected.”
Canal Walk also recorded a bumper season. Chief executive officer Gavin Woods said they predicted that final figures would show in the region of 2.5 million visitors for December.
“Our busiest days were on Thursday, December 22, and Friday, December 23, with more than 113 000 shoppers a day visiting Canal Walk.”
Woods attributed the numbers to people making use of the extended trading hours, which saw them open until 10pm up to December 23.
On tourist numbers this year, Bagraim said the influx included not only foreign visitors, but also many from other parts of the country.
“We are delighted to see that South Africans are starting to travel within their own country, especially if they travel to Cape Town,” he said, adding that visitors had also come from other southern African countries, including Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana.
“One can say that Cape Town is experiencing a tourism boom. Today you cannot park within 3km of the Cableway, and you have to book for a trip or you’ll face a fivehour wait.
“That’s all excellent news for Cape Town, which definitely seems to be establishing itself as the jewel in the crown of South Africa,” Bagraim said.