Ever since the invention of the supermarket self-service model by Clarence Saunders in the late 1920s, the retail business has grown in leaps and bounds, until the internet came along and with it, disruptions. Online shopping and shipping stores have since cut down some parts of the giant retail market. As a result malls have had to contend for market share. This has prompted numbered variations in their business models with focus lately shifting to experiential shopping to stem the low occupation rates.

Datafintech conducted a survey for malls in Nairobi to establish an index on what the malls have to offer against consumer activities. The survey sought to ranks mall preference based on stores representation and percentage share of amenities which contribute to a high customer experience. The study analysed 20 malls with data points composed of amenities offered, stores, restaurants, loyalty programs, parking spaces and rates.

According to the survey, the top five malls in Nairobi based on how many stores are represented include Two Rivers, Village Market, Sarit Centre, Diamond Plaza and garden City Mall respectively. This was also based on the top five most popular amenities for customers.

Also, the top five most preferred amenities include Fashion Stores, Restaurants, ATMs, consumer electronics and cosmetics respectively. Points were awarded based on number of stores, stores variety, number of restaurants, adult and children entertainment to no offering

The highest contributors to the experience index where Diamond Plaza and Two Rivers with 61.26 and 66.81 points respectively.

The data shows that Kenyans have a propensity for fashion, restaurants, cosmetics and electronics since the most malls were heavy on these except for healthcare which arises out of need. It was also observed that restaurants, fashion and healthcare stores have full representation across all malls.

Pet stores had least representation in offerings with only 35% of the malls housing them while book shops and sports equipment ware also relatively unpopular with the malls.

Kenyan malls have recently suffered a slow occupation rate. According to Malcom Horne, CEO of Broll property group, this is due to a narrow local tenant base that is unable to support the abundance of vacant space in the Kenyan Market. The result is that a majority of shopping malls having the same tenants, hence a lack of differentiation. Additionally, oversupply of rental property has given tenants an ace up their sleeve, for negotiation of rents hence cutting on returns to mall owners.