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THE pandemic in Malaysia has resulted in numerous lockdowns since March 2020 and it has been almost 18 months of constant interruption for businesses in shopping malls, with the latest suspension of more than three months causing untold damage to the entire mall and retail industry and their supply chain.
It must be noted that the mall and retail sector had already suffered drastically in 2020 and the present impact is affecting businesses who have been trying to survive on whatever savings are still available and which has been desperately stretched and are now already depleted. It is heartbreaking that the shopping mall and retail industries had to bear the brunt of the financial sufferings when they merely contributed 0.8% of covid cases (May 2021). Therefore, to say that 2021 is an even worse year for businesses would be a gross understatement.
In the light of the above scenario, PPK Malaysia, together with Stratos Pinnacle SB, ran a survey to gather data to ascertain the situation faced by malls due to the major disruptions to the shopping mall and retail industries to date.
A total of 94 malls across Malaysia participated, with the majority of 63% located in the Klang Valley and suburban areas. The survey ran from 23 to 30 July 2021 and included a fair representation of neighbourhood malls, mid-market malls and upper mid-malls. A large proportion of participating malls sampled had a net lettable area (NLA) of less than 92,000sq m.
During the survey period, the majority of malls or 71% were placed under NRP Phase 1, while 19% were in NRP Phase 2, both of which had similar constrictive business restrictions of only allowing the ‘essential’ sectors to operate ie supermarkets, hypermarkets, departmental stores (partial operations), pharmacies, food snd beverage (takeaway only), hardware, e-commerce, pet shops, optical trade and laundries and then only lately, books and stationery, computers and telecommunications.
Within the above circumstances, therefore, the majority of malls had only between 10% and 20% of tenants that were still operating at their premises. As at December 2020, nearly 60% of malls saw up to 10% of their tenants closing permanently but by December 2021, however, 66% of malls are now expecting 10-30% of their tenants to vacate.
60% of malls currently had footfall decreases to less than 10% to 40% of pre-pandemic levels, indicating that footfall had dropped dramatically, ranging from 60-90%. This drop was seen to be relatively consistent across various shopping mall sizes.
Of the malls surveyed, 65% of malls only achieved sales of less than 10% to 40% of pre-pandemic levels, indicating a drop of between 60-90%. Notably, the above included the business sectors deemed as ‘essential’ by the authorities, which means those shops not allowed to open would have suffered much higher drop in sales, basically zero sales whenever the shop is closed. The poor sales figure is further reflected by the drastic drop in footfall, fear and weak buying power.