Malaysian mall owners group says too early to offer rental rebates for tenants or retailers

The Malaysia Shopping Malls Association said that further monitoring is needed to assess the impact of the coronavirus outbreeak on the Malaysian retail sector. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) -The Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPKM) said it was too early to offer rental rebates to tenants or retailers, amid a plea for help during the global coronavirus crisis.

PPKM said in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 18) that further monitoring is needed to assess the impact of the virus on the Malaysian retail sector.

PPKM was responding to a statement by retail associations urging shopping malls and shoplot owners to give tenants rebates of between 30 and 50 per cent to help them ride out the effects of the virus outbreak.

The associations that issued the statement were the Malaysia Retailers Association, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Bumiputra Retailers Organisation, Asean Retail-Chains & Franchise Federation and Branding Association of Malaysia.

PPKM said sales data and trends will be first monitored over the next few months before the issue of rent discounts can be decided.

"In Malaysia, it is still too early to fully assess the retail performance impacted by Covid-19 and we shall need more time for monitoring sales turnover, perhaps over the next few months, depending on further development of the current situation.

"Shopping mall members will need to analyse and monitor data and trends and to curate appropriate and targeted action plans, on a case by case basis," PPKM said.

The association said that the poorer retail performance currently faced by retailers may be due to slower sales usually seen in the post-festive period.

"It is noted that there are some anxious sentiments prevailing in the market but this is part of the traditional cyclical performance for the shopping mall and retail industry after the festive seasons.

"This post-festive season, which is after Chinese New Year, Christmas and the 2019 year-end school holidays, is already known as a low season based on past cyclical patterns, hence mall operators and retailers should have factored the dip in retail sales turnover and prepared strategies to rationalise their business operations for the next two to three months," it said.

The association added that in comparison, shopping mall owners in Singapore had announced measures to assist businesses there as the shopping industry there is heavily reliant on tourists, especially from China.

In Hong Kong, it added, the businesses in shopping malls have been badly affected, first by protests since last year and now by the virus outbreak.

PPKM said Malaysian mall operators and owners have always rendered assistance to their tenants during challenging times in the past, and it noted that many have taken steps to boost retail sales.

The association, it added, had participated in several meetings with the government to request for assistance on several measures to preserve cash flow and maintain employment for mall owners and retailers alike.

"Our requests include subsidies for utilities charges, tax reliefs and temporary suspension of statutory contributions.

"We certainly look forward to the stimulus package to be announced soon," it said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.