Low foot traffic, few stores open in malls as gov't eases COVID-19 lockdowns - operators

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2020 01:50 PM | Updated as of May 23 2020 02:19 PM

People wearing face masks use an escalator with markings to promote social distancing at a shopping mall during the modified enhanced community quarantine in Quezon City on May 19, 2020. Malls and other commercial establishments in the capital region re-opened after the government eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Basilio H. Sepe, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Operators of major shopping malls said Saturday they hoped to reopen more stores as they started resuming operations after lockdown restrictions were relaxed in the country.

SM Supermalls president Steven Tan said at least 30 percent of SM mall tenants reopened last week.

“Nahihirapan din sila pumasok (they find it hard to come to work) because there’s no public transportation available,” he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

There was also low foot traffic, with just up to a fourth of the usual number of shoppers coming. 

“Ang foot traffic is nasa (foot traffic is at) 10 to 25 percent. We expect over time na magi-increase rin lalo na kung komportable na ang mga tao na pumunta sa mall (this will increase especially when they get comfortable going to malls again),” said Ayala Malls president Jennylle Tupaz.

What’s preventing shoppers from visiting malls is the lack of public transport, according to mall operators. Mass transport remains suspended despite eased restrictions in key cities, including in Metro Manila. 

“The number of people that will go to the mall is related to the availability of transportation. Sa ngayon, karamihan na pumupunta sa malls ay car-riding (For now, most people who come to malls are those with cars),” Robinsons Malls senior vice president and general manager Arlene Magtibay said.

Since reopening their doors to the public last week, mall operators said they were compliant with safety protocols set by government. 

These include mandatory temperature checks, wearing of face masks and disinfecting high-touch points, said Krystal Padua, marketing officer of Vista Mall and Starmall.

"We put our best effort to comply with the new IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) guidelines, as well as guidelines set by LGUs and the DOH (Department of Health). We have put in place more rigorous safety protocols,” she said.

While shoppers can stay inside the mall as long as they want, most of them made their visit purposeful.

“In our experience, nobody really lingers inside the mall. They just buy the essentials,” said Tefel Pesigan-Valentino, vice president for marketing and business development of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls.
 

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