SM boss sees malls staying relevant despite the pandemic


Posted at Oct 23 2020 04:09 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2020 11:03 PM

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SM Supermalls President Steven Tan said Friday he believes brick-and-mortar stores will remain relevant in the coming years, even as the industry navigates the world rattled by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Filipinos are very social. I think the malls will still be relevant in the next couple of years or in the next few decades. However, we always give options to customers, that’s why we created the virtual mall," he told ANC's Headstart.

In June, the retail conglomerate ventured into online-offline "hybrid" shopping, with click-and-collect, curbside pick-up, smartphone messaging communities for deliveries and concierge style personal shopping via social media.

The company waived rent fees of tenants from March 15 to May 15, the first few months of the lockdowns meant to curb the transmission of COVID-19.

Eli Antonino, co-founder of food chain The Moment Group, said SM also allowed them to open for delivery and take-out orders. Their products were also made available in SM Supermarkets, she said.

When more establishments apart from the essentials were allowed to operate, the mall also ensured safe reopening for tenants, she said.

Several months into a looser general community quarantine, Antonino said dine-in transactions now contribute to almost half of their sales.

"Everybody now, as they say, is picking up. We’re hoping that it continues into the ber months," she said.