Biggest shopping malls in SA: Avoid these if you hate walking

Fourways Mall in Johannesburg is currently the biggest shopping mall in South Africa. This is following an expansion that finished in September 2019. Despite being the smallest province in South Africa, Gauteng has a disproportionately high number of shopping centres. Most of SA’s biggest shopping malls are in Gauteng.

Mzansi’s biggest shopping malls: Top 10

Markedly the biggest shopping centre in the country is Fourways Mall in Johannesburg with a gross lettable area (GLA) of 178 202 sqm. To explain, GLA is the amount of space in a commercial building that can be rented by a tenant.

Thereafter, the other shopping malls on the top 10 in terms of size are:

2. Menlyn Mall, Pretoria (177 000 sqm)

3. Gateway Theatre of Shopping, uMhlanga (176 400 sqm)

4. Sandton City, Johannesburg (147 941 sqm)

5. Canal Walk, Cape Town (147 834 sqm)

6. Eastgate Shopping Centre, Johannesburg (142 825 sqm)

7. Centurion Mall, Centurion (133 333 sqm)

8. Mall of Africa, Johannesburg (131 038 sqm)

9. Pavilion Mall, Durban (122 768 sqm)

10. Cresta Shopping Centre, Johannesburg (114 545 sqm)

Even though it is the eighth biggest shopping mall, Mall of Africa is the country’s busiest shopping mall measured by mall visits.

Busiest shopping centre

Overall, Mall of Africa is the busiest mall in the country when it comes to visits and mall durations (counting per visiting vehicle). According to Lightstone, a company that provides information, valuations and market intelligence on properties in SA, Mall of Africa competes with Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga for the number one spot.

“Mall of Africa is comfortably the busiest mall in the country in terms of visits and mall duration and is followed by Menlyn Park Shopping Centre and Wonderpark Shopping Centre in Tshwane,” Lightstone said.

Business Tech

Other strong contestants in terms of mall visits, are Canal Walk and the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town as well as the Pavilion, Cornubia and Galleria in KwaZulu-Natal.

Fourways in trouble

Despite its size and prime location, Fourways Mall is facing significant challenges. According to Business Tech, Accelerate Property Fund (APF), the co-owner of the shopping mall, is struggling with debt it incurred in relation to Fourways Mall, and in particular related to unoccupied space in the shopping centre. Fourways Mall’s vacancies (available rental space) increased from 14 349 sqm in March 2023 to 15 109 sqm in September 2023.

Moneyweb reported in January this year that more than 120 of the roughly 450 stores at Fourways Mall were vacant – that is more than a quarter of outlets. At this time, there were 14 vacant shops in the wing that developers built as part of the major multi-billion-rand redevelopment at the end of 2019.