Article

Retail Market Insights

May 26, 2024 / By  

Retail markets show resilience

Retail activity across the Asia Pacific region maintained a vibrant pace, with many retailers homing in on strategic store opportunities. The upswing in international visitors is enhancing foot traffic in prime retail corridors across much of the region, underpinning the rationale for launching new retail outlets in leading shopping centres and zones favoured by tourists. Though domestic spending trends may exhibit some variability, they largely confirm the ongoing confidence in the region’s retail sector and strategic positioning in prime locales. That said, consumers are becoming more discerning and demanding more from the shopping experience. Landlords and retailers are being pushed to up their game, placing greater emphasis on the tenant mix and designing unique in-store experiences.

With positive leasing momentum sustaining, the aggregate Asia Pacific Retail Rental Index maintained on a gradual uptrend for a fourth consecutive quarter, indicating a continued recovery in the market after three years of rental declines.

Greater China

Waning domestic consumption, partly due to the surge in outbound travel, as well as tourist spending per capita softening led to a slump in Hong Kong’s retail sales during the first quarter. Leasing demand, however, was stable and gravitated towards the mass-to-mid-end of the market, for example, drug and dispensary, jewellery, and light refreshment establishments. Meanwhile, more operators from mainland China continued to expand their footprint.

Firmer leasing demand was observed in Beijing supported by a pick-up in consumption. Recent completions with available space benefitted from the improvement in activity, contributing to a drop in overall vacancy. Store openings came from a variety of categories such as F&B, fashion, lifestyle and new energy vehicles.

Retailers in Shanghai, however, took a more cautious tone and dialled back expansion plans amidst a slow recovery in retail sales. With consumers embracing quality and affordability, some food & beverage, sportswear, homeware, and domestic fast-fashion operators catering to this segment have opened new stores.

Although footfall at Guangzhou’s shopping malls increased during festivals, sales revenue growth lagged, leading to cautious sentiment by many retailers. Healthy F&B sales, however, supported demand from domestic F&B chains and this segment contributed to the majority of new store openings in the quarter. The luxury market also showed resilience as landlords of prime malls are upgrading tenant mixes, bringing in high-end fashion and beauty brands. For example, luxury brands Gucci and Bottega Veneta committed to K11, and luxury cosmetics brand Aesop is planning to open its second store in Guangzhou at Parc Central.

North Asia

The influx of foreign visitors has kept Tokyo’s prime high streets on the radar for international retailers as they look to tap into rising spending by overseas travellers – which topped JPY 5 trillion for the first time in 2023 despite visitation only reaching 79% of the 2019 level. The record spending boom has been helping to offset softness in domestic consumption. Hoka opened a store at the crossing of Omotesando and Meiji-dori, while Balenciaga is scheduled to open a new outlet in Ginza Chuo-dori in May.

Consumer sentiment and retail sales performances have been mixed in South Korea at the start of the year; fortunately, overseas visitation has remained on a recovery track. Heavily trafficked shopping districts such as Myeongdong that offer unique experiences have gained the most from the increase in foreign tourists with a drop in vacant shops observed.

Southeast Asia

Retailers are still confident about the Singapore market, and operators taking a long-term perspective continue to expand. Leasing demand in the first quarter came from F&B vendors, active lifestyle/sports-related operations and beauty and wellness establishments.

Demand from international retailers showed remarkable strength in Bangkok, particularly in the CBA, and was complemented by the top-of-the-market supply that entered in 2023. Activity outside of the CBA, however, slowed in part due to landlords beginning to implement asset enhancement plans.

Landlords of Jakarta’s prime shopping malls have actively been changing tenant mixes to provide a diverse array of retail options to consumers. F&B was still a significant driver of demand and the first quarter saw the expansion of a fashion brand into this segment as The Coach Restaurant opened in Grand Indonesia in early March.

A surge in new store openings in recently completed malls in Manila as well as fewer closures resulted in vacancy edging lower. Like elsewhere in the region, F&B was a dominant source of activity, and many landlords are undertaking renovations to upgrade their mall offerings.

India

A diverse range of domestic and international retailers drove robust demand and store openings in prime malls across India, as brands look to tap into the bright prospects of the growing consumer market. In Mumbai, most of the leasing activity was recorded in the Prime North and Suburbs submarkets with popular brands like Tod’s, Rimowa and Maison Margiela taking space in premium malls.

Suburban areas of Delhi NCR also drew interest and led leasing activity during the quarter. Beauty and cosmetic brands Nars Cosmetics, Reliance Retail’s Tira, Tata Trent’s Misbu and Lovechild Masaba opened their first stores in the city, while the likes of Singapore’s Limited Edt and Italy’s Golden Goose opened their first locations in the country.

Australia

Persistent inflation continued to squeeze business margins for most retailers especially individual operators and sole traders. As a result, most tenant demand in the first quarter arose from national chain operators looking at taking advantage of favourable operating conditions to expand their store network. Leasing demand overall, however, was generally steady. Enquiry levels have been improving but transaction activity is limited, signalling a likely disconnect between landlord and tenant expectations.

Retail outlook

Experienced landlords in the retail industry are actively seeking to enhance tenant mixes by attracting high-quality and value-focused brands. Demand is expected to remain strong for experience-oriented tenants as well as those in the F&B segment. Across the region, landlords of premium malls will continue reshaping tenant mixes to prioritise customer experience, introducing new brands and categories. Resilient retail sales, driven by factors such as strong inbound tourism, are likely to entice new brands and facilitate strategic expansion for existing operators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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