SHOPPING mall operators and retailers in the Klang Valley are being constantly challenged to stay competitive and keep up with changing spending habits and online shopping trends.
The exit of the Parkson departmental store from the Maju Junction Mall at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur could be a sign that challenging times are ahead for retail stores in Malaysia.
Parkson Holdings Bhd, which operates some 50 stores in the country, announced recently that it was shutting down its store at Maju Junction. It also announced that it was setting up an outlet at M Square Shopping Mall in Puchong, Selangor.
Plunging foot traffic, in part due to the current economic climate, may spell trouble for shopping complexes nationwide, but yet there are still mall openings this year and onwards.
At the end-2016, there were 255 malls in the Klang Valley (Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya) with total retail supply of about 68.2 million sq ft. The average occupancy rate of these malls was reportedly at 79.9 per cent.
Last year, 14 malls were expected to have opened, with a total net floor area of 6.3 million sq ft.
Malls which opened in the last two years were Sunway Velocity (in Cheras), MyTOWN Shopping Centre (Cheras), Evolve Concept Mall (Ara Damansara), The Starling (Damansara Uptown), GloDamansara, Star Avenue (Jalan Sungai Buloh), KL Gateway Mall (Bangsar South), Melawati Mall, Empire City Mall (Damansara) and Amerin Mall (Balakong).
Malaysia Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Eddy Chen said last year at a seminar titled “Breathing New Life into Malls” organised by the association that those planning to build a new mall should conduct a more robust market research.
He said gone are the days where operators can just build and sell.
EXCITING DEVELOPMENT IN SHAH ALAM
The biggest mall to open this year is Central i-City Shopping Centre at i-City Shah Alam. Joint developers, I-Berhad and Bangkok-based Central Pattana Public Co Ltd (CPN), have done their own market study to ensure its success.
CPN Ventures Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture company between the Thai firm and I-Berhad, is confident that the mall will have an occupancy rate of 100 per cent by the time it opens its doors this year.
The company is targeting both local and Thailand-based tenants.
It is understood, the take-up from Thai retailers has been overwhelming while many Malaysian operators are also eager to set up shop in the mall as it will be linked to a light rapid transit (LRT) station.
This monumental project is expected to offer a new shopping experience to Malaysians, said CPN executive vice-president (marketing) Dr Nattakit Tangpoonsinthana in a press statement last year.
He said the mall aspires to integrate and share the strength of two cultures, which are Thai hospitality and Malaysian friendliness.
The construction of the six-storey shopping mall, which has a lettable area of 940,000 sq ft with about 350 shops, started in 2016.