Skip to main content Skip to footer

Blurring the Lines of Retail


The retail environment is now more challenging than ever due to the temporary absence of international travel and tourism, but brick and mortar retail is expected to continue its growth in the long run.

2020 has undoubtedly been a very bumpy ride for the retail sector. The good news is that Singapore residents — unable to travel overseas  have acted as a substitute for international travelers and have spent more disposable income than ever before. Although the retail environment will remain challenging in the absence of international tourism in the short term, we expect the brick and mortar retail sector to continue flourishing in Singapore moving forward.


“It is important to remember that retail is very cyclical, the industry will see some brands struggle, and even disappear, while others will continue to strive and grow.”


Brick and Mortar retail still very much matters, but will continue its transformation journey

In the long run, we believe brick-and-mortar retail will remain relevant and is here to stay, especially for global retailers. However, what will continue to change is the delivery format, and the evolving experience to consumers. We have seen a rapid take-up of large prime retail footprint just over the past couple of months. The three former Robinsons were taken over very quickly by major retailers for their concept stores such as Decathlon at Orchard Point, IKEA at JEM or more recently BHG at Raffles City.

2021 is going to be the year of the consolidation of the retail sector. It is important to remember that retail is very cyclical, the industry will see some brand struggle, and even disappear, while others will continue to strive and grow. This could actually be a good thing and an opportunity for landlords to refresh their tenant mix, review their anchor strategy, and revisit their positioning in the market.

Retail properties transforming into exciting lifestyle destinations

Retail properties are moving away from "traditional" shopping as they become exciting lifestyle destinations. This was true before COVID-19, and will continue to hold true accelerate even post-COVID19. Jewel Changi Airport, for example, provides both entertainment and different attractions. Many shopping malls and retail properties are looking at alternative formats  developing a unique positioning in the market which allows them to maintain their competitive edge.

"Malls are places to learn, work and play, not just to shop."

Landlords need to identify their key occupiers, implement a curated retail tenancy and trade mixed strategies in their property. The anchor tenants will offer a differentiated experience to shoppers and visitors, and landlords will need to provide incentives to attract them to their properties.

Read more: Singapore retail malls maintain investor attraction


As we navigate the 'phy-gital' retail era, strategies such as omni-channel retailing (Shopee, Lazada) have managed to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital, becoming increasingly important.


Bridging the gap between physical and digital retail

E-commerce has increased significantly over the past couple of years and is competing directly with brick-and-mortar retailers. As we navigate the "phy-gital " retail era, strategies such as omnichannel retailing (Shopee, Lazada) have managed to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital, becoming increasingly important.

Shopping mall operators are now also creating their own platforms. This is a game-changer. A great example will be the E-CapitaMall and Capital Eat platforms allowing CapitaLand's tenants to benefit from the digital space. We also see "The Click & Collect" options becoming available in-store and even within shopping malls to benefit the multiple tenants. Shopping mall operators will have a much more significant role to play in that omni-channel retail strategy.


blog civas retail blurring lines decathlon 2
Decathlon provides a "Click & Collect" service, which allows customers to place an order online and collect their order in-store within 7 days.


Shopping mall operators should also take the opportunity to re-think their role in the entire e-commerce chain. For example, shopping malls may become more of fulfillment centres and last-mile delivery hubs for e-commerce, like what we see happening across North America.

This might lead to the conversion of some older shopping centres and the re-adjustment of physical configurations for the others.


You may also like:


Liked what you read? Subscribe to our mailing list for more fresh and unique insights on the latest in commercial real estate.


Article enquiries

Contact our Colliers Editorial team here.

Related Experts

Jonathan Denis-Jacob

Director & Head

Advisory & Consulting


Jonathan is  Director and Head of Advisory services at  Colliers International in Singapore. He is a registered professional planner, urban economist and real estate professional with over 13 years of industry experience in North America and Asia. He has joined Colliers International in May 2018. 

Jonathan is in the business of providing bespoke strategic advisory through solid economic, financial, and market analysis to help clients achieve remarkable real estate, urban and infrastructure projects. As an international urban development and real estate expert, he supports government agencies, public institutions and investors on real estate strategies, urban planning and infrastructure projects and economic development strategies across Asia and beyond.

Jonathan regularly supports clients with their regional and international real estate investment strategies, working with Colliers International colleagues around the world as part of Asia outbound capital deployment strategies. 

Originally from Montreal, Canada, Jonathan is a Canadian citizen and permanent resident of Singapore. He is professionally fluent in English, French and Spanish.

View expert