MENA’s shopping malls should adopt screening to mitigate COVID-19 disruption: Colliers International

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

Physical shops across the world remain closed due to government mandated lockdowns to curb the coronavirus. It is drastically impacting not only brick-and-mortar sales but also reducing retailer ability to service online orders in store, said Colliers International.

Colliers International has released its latest white paper on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the MENA region’s retail and development sector, exploring how retailers and developers can adapt to ensure resilience in a period of great uncertainty.

Colliers recommended larger shopping centres adopt screening measures to prevent customers who are suspected to be infected from entering.

The report also endorsed smaller centres remain operational to ensure that less sophisticated retail tenants work towards taking online orders. They would combine this with temporary measures including taking e-mail and phone orders. These retailers would also increase their social media presence and online exposure across various platforms.

Retailers are also likely to seek assistance with rental payments, particularly in terms of short term rent breaks that could be paid back over six- or twelve-month periods, the report read.

The report noted that luxury retailers and full-service restaurants, alongside leisure and entertainment are proving to be some of the hardest hit retail categories. Cinemas worldwide are facing closures at an unprecedented rate, both voluntarily and due to government restrictions.

While full-service restaurants have some ability to adapt, for example experimenting with takeout or delivery options, dedicated entertainment and leisure facilities remain closed indefinitely due to their nature.

Ricardo Bergsma, Director of Leasing and Retail Advisory Services at Colliers International MENA said, “Shopping centres continue to close as governments implement varying degrees of lockdowns in a bid to thwart transmission of the virus. Countries with nationwide mall closures include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt, dramatically impacting retailer operations which will have widespread implications, particularly for mall owners / operators who are likely to see major disruptions in lease payments. For Shopping mall owners to try and mitigate the impact, certain measures should be taken into consideration such as increasing PR activity with press releases, adopting screening measures in the malls, considering short-term rent break and increasing social media presence.”

Bergsma added that grocery retail, on the other hand, is struggling to keep up with the demand, now that consumers rely on supermarkets and grocery shops to buy their goods. Carrefour in the UAE has revealed a 300% surge in online orders, with a 59% increase in new customers to its platform.

He said, “Overall, we are seeing retail as one of the fastest sectors to recover when the market bounces back to normality. We are working with retailers on case-by-case bases to provide customised advice and guidance.”

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