What's New In Property

Suburban malls continuing to gain, as tech drives retail changes

Many shopping malls, such as Funan, are investing significantly in improving their tenant mixes and overall look and feel.
Many shopping malls, such as Funan, are investing significantly in improving their tenant mixes and overall look and feel.PHOTO: CAPITALAND

The Singapore retail market has been resilient and retail sales are generally up compared with a year ago.

Food and beverage (F&B) continues to be a major driver of activity, with upmarket operators such as Pablo, Pizza Express, Da Paolo Gastronomia and PS Cafe expanding, while a number of mass market operators, including Din Tai Fung, Let's Eat, Burger King and Jollibee, have continued to open new outlets.

Singapore's Central Business District has seen something of a renaissance, with more space being taken by F&B operators such as Fun Toast, Jewel Coffee, My Izakaya, Ju Hao Xiao Long Bao, O'Coffee Club and Wheat, among others.

While some fashion and accessories brands such as Chomel and Forever 21 have consolidated their operations, many big-box retailers such as Courts, Decathlon, Gain City and Harvey Norman are investing heavily in their e-commerce platforms to complement their store networks.

With Amazon Prime Now in the market, retailers are innovating to stay relevant and are competing for sales through an improved omni-channel presence.

Many shopping centres, including Century Square, Funan and SingPost Centre, are also investing significantly in improving their tenant mixes and overall look and feel.

Well-located malls, especially those in key suburban locations such as Jurong, Yishun/Woodlands, Tampines and Sengkang/Punggol, continue to benefit from a healthy residential catchment with a high frequency of shopping.

Demand from F&B operators and potentially more temporary or "pop-up" stores will continue to support the market, with landlords looking to assemble more interesting tenant line-ups and shopping environments.

As technology progresses, Singapore is preparing to become a smart nation where more mobile engagement is encouraged. Indeed, the Association of Banks in Singapore recently launched a secure peer-to-peer payment platform which enables the direct transfer of funds among seven participating banks and includes retailers. In line with this, the application of data analytics will continue to be critical for the survival of shopping malls and retailers. Shoppers will become even more discerning and sophisticated, with access to more e-payment options across offline and online platforms, offered in conjunction with various reward programmes.


•The writer is head of research, Cushman & Wakefield Singapore, and this is an excerpt from the annual Main Streets Across The World report.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 21, 2018, with the headline 'Suburban malls continuing to gain, as tech drives retail changes'. Print Edition | Subscribe