Malls may become e-commerce storage amid PH retail slump

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By: Manila Bulletin, Bloomberg

Property developers in the Philippines are considering novel alternative uses for shopping malls as people stay home and prefer to buy things online.

SM Prime Holdings Inc., the nation’s biggest landlord, is leasing out some of its parking lots for longer-term car storage, while a unit of Ayala Land Inc. plans to convert areas in its shopping centers to e-commerce backend facilities and medical clinics.

The Philippines is home to some of Asia’s biggest malls; capital Manila and surrounds boast total retail space of 7.3 million square meters, according to Joey Bondoc, a research manager at Colliers International Group Inc. That’s more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park.

Retail vacancy rates in Manila are forecast to climb to 12% this year while rents will drop for the first time since the global financial crisis, forcing shopping centers to either “innovate or evaporate,” Bondoc said.

AyalaLand Logistics Holdings Corp. is studying turning parts of its malls into last-mile fulfillment facilities, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

AyalaLand Logistics shares fell as much as 2.3% in Manila trading Thursday, heading for a three-day losing streak. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index rose 0.8%.

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