Sara Fang Horton, UEM Sunrise Bhd’s head of retail strategy
“There is a pronounced drop in footfall and our tenants’ sales when the CMCO in the Klang Valley was announced on Oct 14. Based on carpark transactions for Publika, we are down by approximately 25% for the first 10 months of 2020 versus the same period in the previous year.
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Whilst the October sales numbers are slowly trickling in from our tenants, we can already see a 50% decline in year-on-year sales for some of the smaller F&B tenants for the first nine months of 2020 versus the same period in 2019. The impact is even more significant for fashion tenants, reporting close to a 60% drop.
At the same time, we have to cancel our placemaking activities such as bazaars and festival celebrations that have been planned since the beginning of this year.
However, this lull provides us an opportune time to go back to the drawing board in refining our tenancy mix and rezoning efforts, as well as executing the enhancement works which have been on the cards for quite some time. We are also pushing ahead with digitalisation plans for the mall with the rolling-out of ‘hUb mall’ (a Publika app-based loyalty program) and upgrading the software management systems and the cashless parking system.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the previous MCO have shown that we need to pivot our placemaking strategies to continue building top-of-mind awareness in the community and among our loyal customers who appreciate Publika’s unique experiential and creative retail concept.
Our recovery plans include placemaking activities that connect our audiences to the mall virtually such as the Facebook live stream of our popular singer-songwriter showcase, which also gives a much-needed platform to our local artists. We can also look forward to more unique and niche bazaars that we are known for, which feature artisanal, organic and local products – our own #kitajagakita efforts in helping our homegrown artists and producers.
I believe we are not the only ones facing tougher days ahead with the unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and the unpredictability of the current operating environment.
But for Publika, it is up to us to take this challenge head-on in retraining our staff to be more resilient and creative in handling a tough market, which includes shortening our turnaround time to be agile in executing plans in a timely basis, and to be quick on our feet in rethinking new strategies.
We are hopeful that when the situation goes back to normal and the majority of shoppers come back to the malls, they would be delighted with the new enhanced look of Publika, and the many exciting plans and activities that we have lined up for them!”
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