PETALING JAYA (April 24): While the Movement Control Order (MCO) in place in Malaysia to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak has boosted the growth of e-commerce, major mall owners do not foresee it replacing the physical brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

Sunway Malls & Theme Parks CEO H C Chan explains that physical shopping malls provide the unique shopping experience that going digital or online can never accommodate.

“The physical and digital complement each other. This is the trend we have been seeing even before the virus outbreak, but the Covid-19 and MCO have sped up the entire convergence evolution. The trend will continue and develop even faster in the future.

“Moving forward, both will merge to provide a wholesome shopping experience,” said Chan during Facebook Live Fireside Chat entitled “Will malls be empty in the new normal?” today.

The fireside chat also featured Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK) president and director of 1 Utama Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok as well as KIP Group of Companies group CEO Valerie Ong. The session was moderated by EdgeProp Malaysia managing director and editor-in-chief Au Foong Yee.

Ong pointed out that mall operators may need to rethink the purpose of physical shopping spaces moving forward, as they no longer only serve as a shopping space.

“It is no longer for shopping only but also for socialising. We need to consider whether we still need to maximise net lettable space or to allocate more spaces for social activity and placemaking,” she said.

Agreeing with Ong, Teo highlights that malls need to constantly evolve to stay relevant.

“It is not saying that we should close shop and repurpose the space. It is about evolving all the time. It is a continuous process,” said Teo.

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For the full report on the virtual Fireside Chat read the May 8, 2020 issue of pullout.

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