Malls wooing millennials

  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 02 Oct 2019

The Mid-Autum Festival decor at Sunway Velocity. Festive decorations at malls never fail to wow Malaysians.

MALLS are no longer just retail spaces, preferring to emphasise on an overall experiential setting to draw visitors.

This is also one way to diversify their ever-expanding lettable area.

Chances of immersing in virtual reality games or working at shared spaces that were previously unheard of in malls are now aplenty to cater to the needs of the current market.

Another significant trend is in food and beverage (F&B), where trendy eateries such as boba tea kiosks and hot pot restaurants are increasingly present in malls as operators bank on their periodically popular demand.

No doubt, malls have transformed to stay ahead of the game.

Malaysian Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia) president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said malls had to evolve as they strive to become experiential destinations.

“We are positive that malls remain a people magnet as it provides an air-conditioned environment with a myriad activities for the public.

“The trend is such that there is significant increase in F&B and entertainment.

“Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) simulator sports are being introduced as new formats for entertainment, extreme sports can now be contained in the mall and there is a larger demand for sports and health-related activities.

“Digital entertainment is a growing sector and technology is going to bring a lot of new ideas, some that we cannot even think of today.

“This whole idea of having these in a mall is to be in the forefront, looking for new attractions to stay ahead of the curve, ” he told StarMetro in an interview after the launch of the Council of Asian Shopping Centre (CASC) Conference 2019 in JW Marriot Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

During the Stories from the Region segment at the conference, Teo’s presentation unveiled examples of such trends and the need to meet the demands of millennials, who will be the biggest spenders in the future.

“Millennials are a significant portion of the population that will be great supporters of malls as they are expected to account for almost 30% of the population.

“It is a big target group that is growing in both affluence and expectation, thus the need to identify, understand and fulfil their expectations, ” added Teo. More than shoppingExperiential spaces provide shoppers something other than retail therapy, where they can engage and relax in different settings.

It encompasses festive decor that never fails to wow Malaysians, VR and AR entertainment outlets such as The Rift in Mid Valley Megamall, District 21 Apocalypse-themed adventure park in IOI City Mall, adrenaline-pumping sports such as flowboarding and skydiving as well as secret gardens like the one in 1 Utama Shopping Centre.

The emergence of co-working spaces such as Co-Labs at the Starling mall and Common Ground at Citta Mall is best suited for startups.

This is in line with the global trend where users do not need to rent an office that is usually more expensive and can choose a desirable location to work from.

Special parking facilities are also created to cater to the booming online food ordering market while more and more retail brands are integrating in-store experiences with online shopping.

Datuk Simon Foong, who is the managing director of Adventuria Sdn Bhd which operates The Rift, said the start of the VR/AR centre was to ensure its relevance to the future of malls.

“This is because VR is going to be the future and we want people to experience a different world.

“What we do for Aquaria is similar in The Rift, but we bring players into another dimension and that becomes interesting.

“We offer education on marine conservation while for The Rift, we make sure there is an education component where people can come for team building, ” said Foong, who is also Aquaria KLCC managing director and chief executive officer.

On whether there is an oversupply of malls in the Klang Valley, Teo said the spurt of malls that had been completed in a short period of time was possibly because of retail real estate investment trusts (REITs).

“We actually commissioned a report which found the main malls still performing well where their occupancy rate remained at 80%.

“There are challenges from the current economic situation as well as e-commerce although the latter is still not very significant in Malaysia.

“The good thing is, there is a reverse worldwide trend that shoppers go back to physical stores, which shows that people still need to socialise and malls provide them the social space and attractions.

“The market sentiments remain challenging but malls largely remain resilient although they will need to renew, refresh and regenerate to remain competitive, ” he pointed out.

Malls in Malaysia will continue to grow with the total net lettable area currently at 15.47mil sq metres and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4% last year.

Last year, Malaysia had a mall per capita of 5.3sq ft, with the Klang Valley having 9.1sq ft per capita while Kuala Lumpur alone had 18.1sq ft.

There are currently 671 malls in the country with an estimated value of RM130bil.

Upcoming malls in Kuala Lumpur include Mitsui Shopping Park Lalaport at Bukit Bintang City Centre, KL East Mall, Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Pavilion Damansara Heights, TRX – The Exchange, while Tropicana Gardens Mall will be located at Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya. Boosting tourism

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, who launched the CASC conference, said shopping has held the biggest share of tourist expenditure for Malaysia for the past four years straight.

“It took up 33.4% of the total tourist receipts in 2018 at RM28.1bil, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2017.

“According to a study conducted by Tourism Malaysia, the top items purchased by tourists during their visit to Malaysia in 2018 were handicrafts, clothes, beauty products and shoes.

“It is important to note that apart from high-end shopping, the combination of culture and tourism can be a powerful driver of economic activity.

“Cultural tourism has been recently reaffirmed by the UN World Tourism Organisation as a major element of international tourism consumption, accounting for over 39% of tourist arrivals.

“Towards this end, retailers and malls have an immense role to play in supporting local entrepreneurs and artisans through the promotion and sales of locally-made products, both through pop-up vendors and long-term tenancies, ” he said, adding that the ministry was targeting a record number of 30 million international tourists and RM100bil in tourist receipts nationwide for Visit Malaysia 2020.

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