New shopping centres continue to be built amidst high inflation, falling discretionary spending and a cautious investment climate.

And a majority of these centres have already secured tenants for more than 50 per cent of rental space, with at least a year ahead of their opening.

In a bid to deliver substantive returns, mall managers have pursued big brands by offering competitive rents, sometimes in the region of low teens even in prime locations. This means that big brands pay on average almost two-thirds lower than the market rate per square feet. Despite low rents, mall managers have become more receptive to big brands. Their large format stores have contributed significantly to commitment levels at malls as well as drawing complementary tenants and sales traffic to the project.

This will be a key topic that will be addressed at the World Retail Congress Asia Pacific, which will be held in Singapore from 19th to 21st March 2013.

Lucy Van Den Heede, head of content of World Retail Congress Asia Pacific, said key to bringing shoppers to these new malls is creating an exciting shopping environment for customers.

“In this economic climate, retailers cannot afford to be mundane. They have to find new ways to capture the imagination of their captive audience and differentiate their offerings from the sea of monotonous malls stuffed with the same big brands,” she said.

“As the world gets smaller, audiences are increasingly savvy. Consumers want to be surprised by bold thinking and new offerings. Creating a winning customer in-store experience that connects and resonates with customers is essential. A key theme of the Congress is the sharing of global intelligence on retail property planning and leadership in Asia Pacific.

“Leading retailers and suppliers will be sharing their expertise on delivering winning in-house customer experience. The session will be coupled with a networking session where retailers may debate, discuss and adopt best practices to make the most out of their existing shopping space.”