THE country’s retail sector is expected to fully recover in 2023.

This was what Joey Bondoc, associate director for Colliers International, revealed after the industry remains hit by the pandemic, prompting retail players to transition to various digital platforms to reach their consumers.

“We believe that 2022 will likely be a wait and see still for a lot of consumers, retailers and even mall operators,” Bondoc said, noting that even with the government’s aggressive rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, the country has yet to corner a huge chunk of the vaccines, due to supply issues.

The business community has been banking on the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for the full reopening of the economy. Cebu City, for instance, targets to vaccinate 70 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year.

The Colliers official attributed the future rebound in retail to improved consumer or foot traffic as well as recovery in leasing rates after a correction in 2020.

Next year, mall operators and retailers will be ramping up their online presence, Bondoc said.

“They will be more aggressive in lining up their marketing efforts so as to capture pent-up demand, once a bigger portion of the population will be inoculated,” he said.

Colliers advised operators and retailers to maximize the use of technology and consumer analytics.

It also encourages developers to explore the viability of deploying consumer-assisting robots and collaborate with app developers to better capture consumer preferences and regularly send personalized content.

Colliers said the Covid-induced disruptions have compelled tenants to adopt a wait- and-see stance and look for opportunities to minimize costs during this period of uncertainty.

“We see mall operators revising their lease strategies and offering concessions to keep tenants. These include lower common service usage area fees, lower base rent and other incentives.

Colliers believes that mall operators can help secure higher levels of occupancy by accommodating tenants’ calls for concessions, especially since it foresees brick-and-mortar retailers struggling with sales and consumer traffic for the remainder of this year.

The Philippine Retailers Association earlier disclosed that “retail will still be soft this year” following the varying levels of lockdowns imposed in the country.

The extended lockdown in the National Capital Region and its neighboring provinces early in the year led retailers to expect a “flat growth” this year. (JOB with KOC)