Retailers urge landlords for discounts to counter Covid-19

PETALING JAYA: Shopping malls and owners of shophouses have been urged to give their tenants rental rebates from 30% to 50% for the next six months to help them ride out the effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA), Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO), Asean Retail-Chains & Franchise Federation (ARFF) and Branding Association of Malaysia (BAM) said this is similar to what the shopping malls and landlords have done for their tenants in Hong Kong and Singapore.

They said that many of their members have reported sales drop of 50%, with some expecting revenue to further drop by more than 80% over the next three months.

“Malaysia’s retail businesses have been greatly affected since the announcement of the virus outbreak, where not just many tourists have cancelled their travel plans, but there is also the add-on, double whammy from our own local people who have become very cautious and shoppers staying home, shying away from crowded places like shopping malls, ” the retail groups said in a joint statement Monday (Feb 17).

The group said that besides the drop in consumer traffic, retail outlets have to further incur extra social responsibility costs in engaging more cleaners to wipe down public areas, administration staff to take temperature, to advise staff and customers on good hygiene practices, as well as providing more hand sanitisers at strategic locations.

They added that as rent made up a high proportion of operational costs, landlords needed to be "socially responsible" to help retailers protect jobs and stir domestic consumption for the greater good of the Malaysia economy.

The retailers also appealed to landlords to offer holistic support such as the flexibility to operate shorter store hours, to cut down or reduce unproductive operational hours, free parking for shoppers, complimentary booking of atrium areas, and marketing support for both retailer-driven promotions and mall-wide marketing initiatives.

“Let us overcome this challenging time together. Retailers are not requesting for a long-term rental rebate or cut. We are asking for help to ride through this very difficult time, ” they said, adding that they hoped businesses will bounce back in six to eight months.

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