In 2019, Slade Property Services found that shopping mall occupancy was very high with many of the malls, such as Myanmar Plaza and Junction City, having a 100% occupancy rate. Between 2018-2019, the Ministry of Commerce permitted thirty-four foreign and twenty-seven joint venture retail and wholesale businesses to operate in Myanmar, which represented a steady increase in demand for retail spaces over recent years.
The tenant mix of malls has mostly been made up of local and international retailers, restaurants and entertainment facilities. By in large, most international retailers have managed to enter the market by forging, joint ventures, franchises and partnerships with local retail players. Although the formation of these partnerships may reduce profit margins for international retails, these local partners play an integral role in establishing a presence and distributing products.
Between 2022-2023, it is estimated that around 90,000 sqm of new retail space will be added to the market to meet the continually growing demand. New retail developments that are due for completion in 2020 include; M Terminal, Samanea and Gamone Pwint Wholesale Market.
However, the outbreak of COVID-19 may have an impact on both the demand and construction of these future projects. When the pandemic reached Myanmar, it had a hugely negative impact on the country’s retailers, who were among the first and foremost to feel COVID-19’s repercussions. A massive reduction in footfall has meant retail tenants have managed to negotiate lower rents than in previous years, with average rents for retail units now sitting at around US$ 25 – 28 per sqm