Tourist boom pulls crowds but not prof­its

Numbers in­di­cate bumper sea­son

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JU­NIOR BESTER

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.


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