SINGAPORE, 29 September 2021 – From manpower shortages, competition from e-commerce to a plateau in retail dynamism, the retail industry has been beset with a multitude of challenges. Today, the industry is further shaken by everchanging safety measures and the continued border restrictions.
Examining data from eight major Singapore-listed commercial real estate investment trusts (Reits), EDMUND TIE Research analysed how the trade mix of malls in Singapore has changed over the last decade as Singapore moves to living with an endemic COVID-19.
The most distinct trend is the higher proportion of food and beverage (F&B) tenants, up eight percentage points in concentration over the last decade. International brands, such as Shake Shack and Haidilao, are pushing this trend with their recent openings.
EDMUND TIE’s Head of Research and Consulting, Lam Chern Woon, said, “Placemaking efforts combined with the power of social media has highlighted malls as an avenue for socialisation. More consumers are looking inwards to find avenues of entertainment and socialisation to stave off the stress of being couped up in their own borders.”
Even before COVID-19, there has been a shift towards making time to focus on health and well-being. This has led to demand for fitness wear and products. Sports and fitness retailers’ concentration has grown by two percentage points. Last year, Decathlon opened 3,200 square metre (sq m) retail space at The Centrepoint.
Department stores’ footprint has fallen 6.1 percentage points over the last decade. The viability of cookie-cutter business models is in question due to the rise of e-commerce as customers demand greater novelty in products. This has led to closures for large department stores, such as Metro’s Centrepoint outlet in 2019, Robinson’s outlet at The Heeren and Raffles City, and the impending exit of Isetan’s Parkway Parade store in 2022.
Leisure and entertainment category’s proportion in malls has dropped five percentage points, as more consumers have opted for online gaming and streaming services as a substitute for physical entertainment venues.
Mr Lam added, “The hurdles faced by physical entertainments venues, such as COVID-19 safety measures and the investment required, adds another layer of difficulty for such venues as they compete against digital entertainment like video games or content streaming.”
Online platforms are also diversifying their offerings to include online grocery shopping, further eating into the retail space, and causing the supermarket tenants’ proportion to fall 3.8 percentage points.
Rising affluence in suburban areas has led to increased concentration of services in suburban malls, with demand growing for beauty, health and tuition services. Meanwhile, the proportion of lifestyle retailers fell in suburban malls but rose in prime malls. Malls in the prime areas have allocated a greater proportion of F&B and lifestyle retailers.
Mr Lam added, “As e-commerce continues to grow, retailers might just opt to use their retail space as a collection point, or a place for customers to physically touch and feel the product before ordering an item to be delivered to their home from their phones,”
Looking ahead, co-working operators could also increase their presence in malls, supported by demand for flexible-working spaces in an uncertain economic climate and companies opting to downsize their working spaces. Spaces by IWG opened a 35,000 sq ft space at One Raffles Place in 2019, and JustCo last year expanded to The Centrepoint, occupying 60,000 sq ft.
Moving forward, retailers can opt for smart retailing which can enhance customer engagement and experience. One such example is Japanese beauty brand SK II, where they opened its Future X Smart Store in 2019, featuring smart product scans and a discovery bar for customers to understand their products.
Livestreaming provides retailers an additional channel to interact and personalise the shopping experience for potential customers.
Mr Lam commented, “As more disruptive technologies and events, such as e-commerce and the pandemic, pose challenges, landlords and retailers will need to be agile to redesign their business models through innovation and embracing technological solutions.”
The trend towards F&B and co-working spaces will likely continue, with the business model of retail evolving to includes extensions into online deliveries and self-pickups. We expect further tweaks to future-proof malls as retail spaces transit into being social destinations.
About EDMUND TIE
EDMUND TIE is a full-service, real estate consulting firm with more than 400 skilled professionals in the region. It is headquartered in Singapore and supported by offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Bangkok, Thailand. The firm offers a comprehensive suite of agency and professional services including investment advisory, business space and retail, residential agency, auction and sales, valuation advisory, statutory valuation and property tax advisory, research and consulting, property management and hospitality management. For more information, please visit www.etcsea.com.
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