The Philippine retail landscape has undergone a transformative shift, grappling with the surge of e-commerce and evolving consumer preferences that challenged traditional brick-and-mortar concepts. In response, mall operators have adopted a forward-looking strategy, reshaping conventional shopping centers into multifaceted modern developments.
Traditionally, malls were defined by enclosed structures housing rows of retail stores. Now, they have evolved into dynamic spaces that cater to a broader range of consumer needs. Recognizing the necessity to stay relevant, mall operators have integrated office spaces, capitalizing on the central and accessible nature of malls. This integration fosters a symbiotic relationship between retailers and office occupiers, generating consistent foot traffic and enhancing the overall appeal of integrated spaces.
Furthermore, forward-thinking mall operators are connecting malls with transportation terminals, incorporating bus or train stations into mall structures. This strategic move improves accessibility, positioning the mall as a central point for commuting and shopping. The resulting synergy benefits both retailers and commuters, contributing to the success and sustainability of the mall as a modern urban hub.
A departure from the traditional retail model involves integrating residential spaces into mall developments. This aligns with the trend of mixed-use developments, offering the convenience of living, working, and shopping in the same vicinity. Residential enclaves within malls create a community-oriented lifestyle, where residents have easy access to amenities, entertainment, and retail outlets.
The integration of office spaces, transport terminals, and residential enclaves brings numerous benefits, including increased foot traffic, extended operating hours, and a diverse range of services, contributing to the economic viability of modern malls. These mixed-use environments enhance the urban living experience, promoting sustainability and reducing the need for extensive commuting.
Roadside retail facilities are not new. Retail giants such as Landers, S&R, and Decathlon, including food service chains, have pursued such a strategy because of either their scale or brand. More brands are now increasingly looking at this strategy, conscious of the evolving consumer behavior.
Lately, Uniqlo has been following suit and opened roadside stores in Alabang, Pasay, Marikina, and Nuvali. Uniqlo’s CEO for Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, Yuki Yamada, said in April 2023 that the roadside stores generate “strong sales” and appeal to people who are going specifically to Uniqlo to shop – a different behavior from conventional mall shoppers.
While it is yet to be seen whether major brands will follow their own roadside store strategy, there are multiple benefits to going outside the limitations of traditional mall opening hours, operational restrictions, and rent arrangements. Brands have greater control of their real estate, and they can appeal better to customers who want to shop fast and avoid a labyrinthian complex like a mall.
In essence, the transformation of traditional brick-and-mortar malls into modern developments represents a strategic response to the evolving retail landscape. Mall operators, through embracing a multifaceted approach, create vibrant, inclusive spaces that cater to diverse consumer needs. At the same time, retail brands are finding ways to tap into customers who prefer the roadside store over a mall. As these modern developments continue to redefine the shopping experience, they contribute to the evolution of urban living, blurring the lines between work, leisure, and daily life.