Writing - Property & Shopping Centres

Rob Rodell

Okay, so maybe their marriage is a bit like Kim and Kanye’s match made in publicity heaven. It ain’t gonna hurt either of their personal brands. Or maybe she and Jay-Z really love each other. Either way, there’s no denying that Beyoncé is pop royalty – and, like Diana Ross, she is married to a modern-day Motown Berry Gordy.

Research suggests that South Africa’s digital retail footprint stands at about 1%, or R1 billion, of total retail sales per year. While this may not seem like much, it is a figure that just keeps on growing.

Years ago, when the Internet became a real force majeure, there was a huge panic that retail would sink because people would go online to shop, and would stop frequenting shopping centres and their stores. Then they re-thought their decision, saying that people would still come to shops because they wanted to have an experience, which online retail really could not give them, so they relegated e-commerce to the weird hi-tech few. Today, it’s a bricks-n-clicks combo, where the store in its physical form still exists, but that same store has an online component which allows them to create utter convenience for the shopper, be that physical or digital.

So, what’s changed in the years since SA became a democracy and the world wide web became another one of those things we just can’t live without? Well, this little ol’ powerhouse down south, purported to no longer be the largest economy on the continent (that honour now belongs to Nigeria, apparently), grew up and started becoming tech-savvy like her friends in Europe and North America. Since the advent of better and cheaper hi-speed Internet connectivity and the ubiquity of it all, CD sales, like DVD sales and even books, have begun to shrink – it’s just easier and cheaper (sometimes even free) to download your favourite song and then either email it or Bluetooth it to a friend, than go pay R100 in a CD store – and that doesn’t include the parking and the ice cream while you’re there, plus the R14 a litre petrol cost.

But what exactly does any of this mean for the average music artist and the average CD store? A well-known CD store operator gives the traditional CD store only until 2020 to survive, before it sinks like the American mega-stores did 10 years ago. In the meantime, CD stores have repositioned themselves for gaming and movies and merchandise, and this is a trend that is here to stay.

As for artists – well, you can still get away with selling tapes in rural areas, and CD sales will probably remain buoyant, at least for the next few years. But if it’s urban glory they seek, then their targeting of SA’s metropolitan areas will have to go online. It’s a brave new old world!

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