7.3 million Filipinos jobless in April amid COVID-19 pandemic – PSA
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that more Filipinos were rendered unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 17.7% unemployment reported by the PSA for April is an all-time high. This is significantly higher than the 5.3% posted in January 2020 and 5.1% recorded in April 2019. This translates to an additional 5 million Filipinos without work during the period. Among the sectors that posted the largest drop in employment are the arts, entertainment, and recreation; electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning; and accommodation and food service activities.
Colliers believes that rising unemployment is likely to affect office space and residential take up in the Philippines. The demand for affordable to mid-income (PHP1.7 million to PHP6 million) residential units partly hinges on local employment. Meanwhile, employment in financial, insurance, professional services, and information technology also drive the demand for office space. In 1998, during the Asian Financial Crisis, unemployment reached 10.3%. During the period, average prices of condominium projects in Metro Manila dropped by 14%. During the same year, office rents plunged by 16%. Colliers sees a slower, U-shaped recovery for the Philippine property market from 2021 to 2022.
Gov’t adds more stations to Metro Manila subway
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that the Metro Manila Subway will now likely have 17 stations with the additional East Valenzuela, Lawton, Senate, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and Bicutan stations. DOTr added that the Bicutan station will likely be the location of the common station for both the Metro Manila Subway and the Philippine National Railways (PNR). The project is scheduled to be completed in 2025 with partial operations covering the first three stations by 2022.
Colliers believes that the continued implementation of infrastructure projects should help sustain economic growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Infrastructure implementation should support the creation of jobs across the country. The Finance, Public Works and Transportation departments already announced that public construction will continue even as the government is focused on providing support to the most vulnerable sectors of the population. The Metro Manila Subway project is one of the major projects started by the current administration. Its completion is likely to raise land and property values around key areas in Metro Manila. Among the projects we see complementing the Subway are MRT-7 and MRT-LRT common station.
Vista Malls, Villar’s retail chains, offer personal shopper services
Vista Mall, together with anchor stores from AllValue Holdings, launched its personal shopper service during the Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) period. The company aims to assist customers with their purchases, given the limited mobility during the lockdown. Brands that offer the service include AllDay Supermarket, AllHome, AllSports, AllToys, and Finds Discount Store. Buyers can avail of the service by sending their shopping list via order form through Viber. Personal shoppers will then purchase the products and prepare them for delivery or pick up for the following day. Transactions can also be paid using credit or debit cards, bank transfer, or Cash-on-Delivery (COD).
By the end of 2020, we project retail vacancy to reach 12%, higher than the 9.8% posted in 2019, due to the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on retail demand. Despite the gradual resumption of mall operations, the limited mobility of consumers will likely affect retail demand. Retailers, especially those under the essential goods sector, should be more innovative in terms of making their products more accessible to buyers. Aside from tapping the e-commerce platforms, retailers should also offer additional services such as deployment of personal shoppers to reach more consumers.