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Cape Town CBD’s remarkable post-covid recovery detailed in CCID economic report

by CCID 16 Aug 2023
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Cape Town, 16 August 2023: The Cape Town CBD’s post-Covid economy is on the rebound with property investment in the inner city in 2022 exceeding R3.555 billion and the retail, hospitality and eventing sectors all being in a phase of regeneration.

These are the key findings of the latest edition of the State of Cape Town Central City Report 2022 – A Year in Review (SCCR), published annually by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID). The findings of the 11th edition of the report – presented to Cape Town business and property leaders at a function in the city this morning – reflect on the economic climate in downtown Cape Town during the previous year.

A total of 22 property developments or redevelopments were recorded last year: four were completed (worth in excess of R170 million); 12 were under construction (worth in excess of R3.085 billion); five were in the planning phase (worth in excess of R300 million); and one project was proposed. 

Of the 22 projects, eight were residential buildings – set to add thousands of new units to the Cape Town CBD’s highly competitive property market and indicating a strong demand for residential property – while six were commercial, four were mixed-use, two were retail buildings and one was a parastatal.

CBD ECONOMY ON THE REBOUND

Data in the 80-page SCCR – which is a sought-after tool that is indispensable to investors, developers and retailers seeking to invest in South Africa’s most successful and dynamic city centre – shows that 2022 ushered in a new phase of regeneration, says CCID board chairperson Rob Kane.

Says Kane: “It’s clear from the results of the report that the Cape Town CBD has put Covid firmly behind it and is experiencing regrowth and stability. With the construction sector regaining its pre-Covid momentum, and the total value of property investment in the Cape Town Central City to be conservatively estimated at R3.555 billion, it bodes well for further growth and investment in the economic hub of the Mother City.”

The most significant indicator of investor confidence in the Cape Town Central City is the sustained growth in the overall official value of all property in the CBD of more than R12.2 billion in 2016/17 to R42.9 billion in 2022, according to the City of Cape Town’s property evaluation.

Kane says apart from the construction sector showing an impressive post-Covid recovery, other key economies that drive business and investment into the Cape Town CBD, namely the hospitality, retail and event sectors, were also all on the rebound by the end of 2022.

At least 10 of the 17 sectors that operate in the Cape Town CBD experienced growth in 2022 with the number of business entities overall increasing by 135, from 2 981 in 2021 to 3 116 in 2022.

The top five sectors that recorded a positive output were the retail; legal services; medical practices; general corporates and head offices; and architecture, engineering and surveying sectors.

RETAIL PROVES RESILIENT

The key economic sector, namely retail – which makes up 1 243 of the 3 116 entities doing business in the Cape Town CBD – increased its footprint in 2022 with more than 80 new retail outlets opening their doors.
This sector has recovered steadily since the onset of the pandemic, and in 2022, the total number of retailers had returned to pre-Covid levels, with six more retail entities operating than in 2019, before Covid hit.

Despite power cuts and other economic challenges, retail confidence in the Cape Town CBD, as measured in the CCID’s quarterly Business Confidence Index, also rose steadily in 2022, with 83.3 % of retailers surveyed indicating they were “satisfied” with current business conditions at the end of the year.

The report states that the total volume (m²) of retail space available in the Cape Town CBD in 2022 at the end of 2022 amounted to 271 209 m², marginally above the 271 040 m² recorded at the end of 2021. Meanwhile, the total retail space occupied in 2022 was 258 024 m², which was an increase of 13 731 m² (5.6 %) from the 244 293 m² recorded in 2021.

The total vacancy rate of retail space in the Cape Town CBD – 13 183 m² – amounted to just under 5.0 % of the total retail space available. In 2021, it was 9.9 %.

“In 2022 there was a steady improvement in the total retail vacancy rate as footfall returned to town and new retailers opened their doors,” Kane notes.

Other key findings in the SCCR include    :
•    In its assessment of the commercial sector, the report notes that the CBD still has the largest share (+39.5 %) of the total office space in the city of Cape Town, as measured by the SA Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA).
•    In recent years, the CBD had the city’s most competitively priced premium-grade office space but by the end of 2022, it had lost this position to Century City. The CBD still has the second largest percentage of P-grade office space – 29.8 % in total compared to 35.1 % in Century City.
•    The office vacancy rate in the Cape Town CBD at the end of 2022 was 13.3 %, which is an improvement from the 16.1 % recorded in 2021.

Unique features of the report include:
•    An overview of the most resilient economic sectors in 2022;
•    A report on the visitor economy and hotel occupancy rates in 2022, as well as an overview of the port and cruise economies;
•    A property investment map detailing the 22 locations of completed developments, current construction sites as well as those of planned and proposed projects;
•    A section on the four precincts that make up the CCID’s 1.6 km² geographic footprint with respect to business, property, economic and living trends, and how they fared in 2022;
•    A comparison of the results over the past decade of findings from the CCID’s annual online dipstick Residential Survey.

Download: Summary of key numbers - State of Cape Town Central City Report 2022 - A year in review

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by CCID