(A Cynical Bricklayer) Covid-19 is changing the commercial landscape

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We are seeing many interesting changes happening across Malaysia as the Covid-19 continues to take its toll on the nation's economy and its people's health. Although the impact is largely negative, certain people are actually benefiting from the virus.

A brisk walk down my residence in the morning allows me to witness a beeline forming at the hawker stalls, composed of the work-from-home office crowd. These people are the crowd who used to have their breakfast near their respective place of work, and it is a heartening sight to see them coming out for lunch and dinner. This is unprecedented, as these restaurants usually experience tepid business during the weekdays.

Then we have the commercial elements made up of the shopping centres and other business units surrounding office areas, where the drastic drop in footfall has resulted in various laudable adaptations. Restaurants there have attempted to stem the loss of revenue by going online, using delivery services to reach their customers.

Hawker stalls in proximity to residential areas are making a killing.

Hawker stalls in proximity to residential areas are making a killing.

It is an interesting adaptation, but I am sceptical of its effectiveness. As much as the digital age allows us the novelty of calling in the food of our choice, there is still the issue of logistics.

We simply do not order meals from far away locations and incur a hefty price for their transportation, not especially in the current recession where savings are paramount. Then there are also various substitutes available at our doorsteps, not considering home-cooking that is healthier.

Besides, such delivery may work for large corporations who have a ready supply chain with various branches canvassing vast locations, for example, pizza and other fast-food franchises. They operate at an economy of scale, allowing them to compete effectively in terms of cost. Small businesses simply have no business dealing in such games as the barriers of entry are too high.

Brick and mortar shops are losing their effectiveness as commerce takes wing into the digital world.

Brick and mortar shops are losing their effectiveness as commerce takes wing into the digital world.

Based on these observations, we can see a shift of commercial elements from offices and shopping malls to dense residential areas, assuming that the pandemic is to continue unchecked.

Business follows people, and the new office is the home. This development bodes well for commercial lot owners situated alongside residential components as it may mean higher rental yield, occupancy rate and added foot traffic. As for the malls and offices, their owners may need to rethink their usage and repurpose them to reflect the current time.

A cynical bricklayer is an opinion piece by the writer and does not reflect the stance of StarProperty.


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