Malls cut rental rates as foot traffic drops to 20 pct during coronavirus crisis: DTI chief

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2020 12:08 AM | Updated as of May 22 2020 03:40 AM

A man rides escalators marked with painted footprints for physical distancing as preventive measure against the spread of the new coronavirus in a shopping mall in Manila, Philippines on May 17, 2020. Aaron Favila, AP/file

MANILA (UPDATE) - Several malls have reduced rental fees as shops continue to struggle for revenue with foot traffic falling to 20 percent, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Thursday.

The number of mall-goers dropped to less than a quarter of the usual rate as the public continues to have restrictions in areas under the modified enhanced community quarantine, Lopez told senators during a virtual hearing.

"Ang mga malls po, recognized na din na napakababa ng traffic count," the Trade chief said.

(Malls have recognized that traffic count remains low.)

"Malls have also adjusted their rent for several months" by waiving fixed rent fees and are just charging establishments based on a percentage of their sales, he said.

"Malaking discount po 'yun sa mga magbubukas [na tindahan]," he said.

(That will be a big discount for the shops that will open.)

Some malls have waived fixed rent fees, but are charging their tenants for 50 percent of gross sales, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told Lopez.

"Mataas pa din 'yun kasi yun kasi kung dalawa [na mamimili] lang pupunta, malaki pa din yun," he said.

(That is still high because if only 2 people bought from the store, that rate is still costly.)

"Maybe you could appeal siguro na 'wag naman 50 percent. Baka puwedeng babaan siguro?" he said.

(Maybe you could appeal to mall owners not to charge 50 percent. Perhaps they could charge at a lower rate?)

Lopez agreed with Zubiri's proposal, noting that while some establishments, including malls, have been allowed to resume operations after lockdown policies were eased last week, sales remain low.

"Mahina pa din po yung negosyo pero at least, instead na zero revenue, may revenue na din 'yung mga [tindahan na] allowed to open," Lopez said.

(Business is still slow but at least, instead of zero revenue, shops that were allowed to open now have some revenue.)
"Ang problema kasi sa MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), karamihan ng tao hindi pa din nakakalabas," he said.

(The problem with the MECQ is that majority of the people are still not allowed to go out.)

"Hopefully by the second half of the year, magsimula na ang pagdagsa ng tao [sa mga malls]," he said.

(Hopefully by the second half of the year, the public will start flocking to malls.)

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez earlier told senators that the government has been extending zero to low-interest loans to some sectors to keep businesses from filing for bankruptcy during the global crisis.