KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Feb 2020:
There is a need for an extended period to monitor the situation more closely and conclusively before any rent rebate is considered for the tenants of the Sunway Malls and Theme Parks due to fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak.
Sunway Malls and Theme Parks chief executive officer H. C. Chan said the call for rent rebate by retailers in Hong Kong and Singapore is not comparable to the Malaysian mall industry since the rent in the two countries is five to 10 times higher than in Malaysia.
He said since Sunway Malls has been largely local consumption-driven and not significantly tourist-driven, the tenants have not experienced significant fallout.
“Sunway Malls’ statistic shows that the virus outbreak had caused a slight decrease in footfall during the initial weeks, but it has since normalised and our footfall has remained stable and resilient.
“While there is impact towards the industry, further examination at mall level needs to be studied as the degree of impact varies from mall to mall,” he said in a statement today.
Chan was responding to a statement issued jointly by retail associations on Monday – urging shopping malls and shoplot owners to give tenants rebates of between 30% and 50% to help them ride out the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia) wants a longer observation period to assess the situation fairly.
Chan said while the virus outbreak has caused a certain level of uneasiness in sentiments, the situation remains cautious rather than regressive.
“By far, the situation in Malaysia is largely controlled, contained and relatively low in relation to other affected countries.”
He said Sunway Malls is of the view that a cohesive two-pronged strategy covering cost and demand management with a long-term perspective is more effective in addressing the current challenges.
“As part of retailer’s cost management, we are open and supportive of shorter operating hours based on their specific needs and trades.”
In response to demand management, Sunway Malls is deploying a holistic and unified marketing stimulus programme across its malls, involving tactical sales campaigns, spend and redeem tactical, and tenants voucher adoption to stimulate retail spending over the next few months.
“With the impending Raya festive period starting in May, it aimed to bridge the gap and expected to see pent-up retail demand to grow in traction especially towards Hari Raya.”
Meanwhile, Chan said Sunway Malls remains confident of its resilient outlook despite Covid-19, adding that the experience of preventive measures to combat SARS in 2003 was put to use through increasing the frequency and level of sanitisation across its facilities to restore confidence.
“It is to reduce the risks of viruses spreading given the number of visitors and retailer staff in our malls.”
He said Sunway Malls also echoes PPK Malaysia’s sentiment in looking forward to the government stimulus programme next week for the total address of the entire value-chain and boosting consumption in the local economy.
“We hope measures including but not limiting to utility subsidisation, tax relief and temporary suspension of statutory contributions will help to provide a remedy to relieve the current situation.”