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Will MCO spell the end for shopping malls?

There has been news about hotels closing down because of the Movement Control Order (MCO) which has now been extended to 12th May 2020. When we read a little more, then we realised the hotel was already suffering losses for the past few years even before the MCO.

There has also been news about some manufacturing concerns shutting down because they could not sell what they produce since the world is under a lockdown. Reading deeper, we realised that this manufacturing concern has been operating at a loss for years somehow. Okay, perhaps the MCO was the final nail in the coffin but MCO is definitely not the sole reason for closures.

What about shopping malls? Earlier article on my expectations of a good mall. That favourite spot for many people? Including tourists who just love to shop? That place where couples could catch their favourite movie after a relaxing dinner? That mall where the supermarket is always packed? Mother doing grocery shopping, father could go to his favourite shops and the kids could just drop by their favourite cafe. After everything is completed, the family will choose a restaurant to eat their favourite delicious meal? Today, all these malls are empty. Would people return? Will MCO spell the end for shopping malls?

Article in Malaysia Shopping Mall Association has estimated that the losses for the retail industry could be around RM5.2 bil to RM6.2 bil in lost sales this year. What will happen after the MCO? Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) president James Loke said, “We are sure that the malls will not be totally empty, but social distancing will become a new normal since people would still fear being infected by the virus. However, we are not expecting to see a return in footfall at malls in the near term; maybe a full recovery of the industry will take up to a year.”

Retail design firm Visata Creative Sdn Bhd co-founder Timothy Liew said malls will still see visitors but less of them. He said, “As such, they will be wanting to go out somewhere and I think the easiest will be the malls. However, it is important for the malls to put in place necessary safety precautions to ensure that visitors feel safe, along the lines of limiting the number of people within the mall at any one time.” Article in

This is my personal view. After so many days in MCO, I have already asked my wife a few times, “what day is today?” Haha. After having to be cooped up in my own home for such a long time, malls will be one of the first few places to visit because it is BIG enough to do social distancing. People will definitely feel safer since there are a lot more space for them to move around. Earlier article on why online shopping will not kill malls…

I have been buying my groceries online and at the nearby 99-mart and convenience stores. I just buy whatever brand is on display at the shelves. Definitely not looking for my usual favourite brand. After MCO, I would love to go back to browsing through the many new brands and choosing versus just simply taking the only choice available from the shelves. So, a mall with a huge supermarket will satisfy what I would like to have. Plus a visit to all my favourite cafes for a latte slowly over a few days. Too many days of drinking 3 in 1 coffee is making me go crazy…

There is more but I think the malls may just have a surprise in terms of recovery versus needing up to 12 months for the recovery. Oh yeah, some malls are also helping their tenants too. Read here: Some malls waiving rental All these would of course also depend on the number of new COVID-19 infections lah. After MCO, please continue to practise social distancing and do what is necessary. Malaysians can lah. Happy staying at home and see you in some cafes after MCO.

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Next suggested article: 6 things malls should think about

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Charles Tan The Founder The Writer Kopiandproperty
Charles Tan

Charles is Founder of He writes from his investment experience for the the past 20 years in investments including property, stock, unit trust and more as well as readings and conversations with many property gurus in the industry. is an independent property blog which is not affiliated to any media company, property developer or even real estate agencies.


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