Filipinos’ love for shopping malls to keep Manila retail afloat

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
According to Colliers, overall vacancy in Metro Manila’s retail space rose to 10% in the first three months of 2019 from 9% six months ago, bucking three consecutive quarters of decline as shoppers migrate online.
BY-NC-ND / Jurgen Proschinger

MANILA, Philippines — The number of vacated retail spaces in Metro Manila has risen early this year, but not by a lot, as e-commerce continues to disrupt traditional retail.

But Filipino consumers still enjoy going to brick-and-mortar stores and mall operators should seize this opportunity to stay afloat amid the rise of online retailers.

“Shopping malls have been an integral part of the Filipino lifestyle and have become de facto public spaces due to the lack of parks in Metro Manila,” real estate consultancy services firm Colliers International Philippines said.

According to Colliers, retail vacancy rate in Metro Manila rose to 10% in the first three months of 2019 from 9% six months ago, bucking three consecutive quarters of decline as shoppers migrate online.

To retain old consumers and appeal to a younger profile of mall-goers, Colliers said shopping malls should take advantage of Filipinos’ appreciation of brick and mortar by renovating spaces, as well as housing experiential and lifestyle-centric tenants to improve consumers’ buying experience.

“Shoppers will likely be drawn to physical malls if retailers offer a wide array of food and beverage (F&B) options; spacious public seating; interactive kiosks and pop-up stores; instagrammable spaces; and limited-edition items,” Colliers said.

“Differentiators may include airconditioned chapel; organic vegetable garden; gourmet food hall; and an expansive retail space for bazaar tenants,” it added.

Colliers said food and beverage firms — which account for nearly 40% of incoming tenants in malls across Metro Manila — will likely have the highest retail space absorption in the next years. “For Filipinos, food will remain king,” the consultancy services said.

Meanwhile, clothing and footwear will cover about 17% of tenants that are set to occupy retail space this year until 2021.

“Creating unique destinations with program-driven experiences is just as important as the physical structures such as permanent attractions, architecture and design,” said Karla Domingo, Colliers Philippines’ associate director for advisory services.

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