Local malls not significantly affected in Covid-19 outbreak

By FARA AISYAH / Pic By TMR File

LOCAL shopping malls did not experience any significant decline in footfall due to the Covid-19 outbreak, as it is driven mostly by local visitors.

Sunway Malls and Theme Parks CEO Chan HC said there is no significant decrease in footfall when comparing 2019 post-festive footfall with 2020 post-festive footfall.

“Since Sunway Malls, like most Malaysian malls, are largely local consumption-driven (over 90%) and not significantly tourist-driven, we have not experienced significant fallout.

“Sunway Malls, which owns and operates seven malls in Malaysia, saw its footfall trend consistent with the previous year’s post-festive season,” he said in a statement last week.

Chan added that Sunway Malls’ statistics show the virus outbreak had caused a slight decrease in footfall during the initial weeks, but it has since normalised and remained stable.

He said Sunway Malls 2020 year-to-date footfall, on the contrary, has registered an increase.

“Ironically, we noticed this similar trend during the fourth quarter of 2019 (4Q19). When the nation’s GDP growth slowed to 3.6%, a 10-year-historical low, Sunway Malls registered a historical high in sales per sq ft for 4Q19,” Chan said further.

He added that while there is an impact towards the industry, further examination at each mall level needs to be studied as the degree of impact varies from mall to mall.

Meanwhile, Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd director Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said it’s too early to determine whether the seasonal drop in patronage is due to the Covid-19 on the back of expected low season.

“So far, the impact at 1 Utama (1U) is not discernable as we gene-rally do not rely on tourists to make up our foot traffic and we continue to attract a fairly strong crowd.

“Our shoppers are regular locals with a large number of office workers who patronise the mall daily. Event organisers are still holding their events and roadshows in 1U,” he said in a statement last week.

Teo emphasised that February 2020 onwards is a normal low season for the retail industry, which happens consistently every year.

Factoring in the dip in sales, he said, mall operators and retailers are always prepared with business strategies to push sales and promotions for the next two to three months.

Teo added that the company will continue to analyse the situation and respond dynamically with targeted action plans to help the mall’s tenants.

He said the company as a landlord also needs to meet financial requirements and cashflow to operate the mall.

At this point of time, Teo said it is still too premature to consider requests for rental rebates or to shorten mall operating hours.