Covid rattles Phnom Penh’s retail landscape through H1

The Covid-19 pandemic has rocked the retail landscape in Phnom Penh, with anxiety around infection risk keeping the masses away from shopping malls and driving retail consumption down by nearly five per cent in the first half of this year, compared to July-December 2020, according to a report by real estate company CBRE Cambodia.

Last week’s findings showed that the Kingdom’s third coronavirus outbreak – dubbed the “February 20 community event” marking the date it was first detected – sent the retail and rental markets plummeting early in March.

The retail occupancy rate in the capital averaged 71.5 per cent in January-June, down 4.6 percentage points from 76.1 per cent in the second half of 2020, the research indicated.

The report lists the average monthly rental prices during the period at $27.56 per sqm for “prime shopping mall” units (down 3.2 per cent half-on-half), $22.22 for “prime retail podium” units (down 9.3 per cent) and $23.61 for “prime high-street” units (down 10.0 per cent).

Average rates for “community mall” units, in contrast, stood at $21.58, up 0.7 per cent.

In the first half of this year, new projects added 37,824sqm of retail space in the capital, bringing the total to about 390,000sqm.

CBRE Cambodia senior manager Kim Kinkesa told The Post on July 14 that even as the government rolls up its sleeves to vaccinate the people, retail sales would not likely undergo substantial recovery this year due to the ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak.

She stressed that demand for rental space would only pick up once the domestic spread of the virus is fully brought under control.

“The retail market is likely to continue to decline slightly until the end of 2021, due to the small number of shoppers in supermarkets and department stores,” she said.

CBRE Cambodia says an additional 64,102.2sqm of retail space is likely to be added to the market in the capital over the second half of 2021, according to Kinkesa.

The government approved 1,823 construction projects in January-May, down 13.23 per cent from 2,101 in the year-ago period, the Ministry of Economy and Finance reported early this month.

The ministry said housing projects accounted for 1,607 – down 7.96 per cent from 1,746 in January-May 2020 – and were to the tune of $2.349 billion, down 32.6 per cent.

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