With the explosion of new shopping centres in Yangon such as Junction Centre Maw Tin Towers and Taw Win Centre launched in the past two years, an exodus of businesses from old centres might be expected.
However, the managers of older malls such as Yankin and Dagon centres say customer demand is as strong as ever and there are still waiting lists to get retail space.
“Everything is settled here and if we had any room to expand we could easily find 50 shop owners to rent the space,” said U Kyaw Win Than, the manager of Yankin Centre.
“We have 200 to 300 applications pending for shop rentals,” he added.
Yankin Centre was built about 11 years ago and houses more than 50 shops and a City Mart supermarket branch, as well as several restaurants.
“It’s is a good time to run a retail shop,” U Kyaw Win Than said.
He added that even though more competitors have arrived on the scene in the past 24 months, it has not resulted in economic hardship for the companies involved.
A spokesperson for Shwe Taung Development Company said the company’s oldest shopping centre was still operating well.
“When we opened Junction Centre Junction 8 in 1999 there were more than 70 shops and a supermarket. Shops at the centre are still in high demand,” he added.
“We recognise that our centre is a little old now and make sure to regularly change the interior and exterior decorations to keep it interesting,” he added.
Shwe Taung Development has a portfolio of shopping centres, all of which are under the “Junction” brand. These include Junction 8 in Mayangone township, Junction Maw Tin in Lanmadaw township, Junction Zawana in Thingangyun township and Junction Centre Nay Pyi Taw in the capital.
The company is also planning to open a new shopping centre, Junction Square, on Pyay Road in Kamaryut township.
U Kyaw Myo Naing, the marketing manager for Dagon International Company, said Dagon Centre remains sought after by retailers because it’s well connected to the public transport network.
He added that the centre has a reputation for being a fashion hotspot and houses a number of exclusive clothing and footwear outlets.
“Since we opened Dagon Centre in 2003 at the Myaynigone junction in Sanchaung township we have tried to open up more space to fit more shops because demand was so strong.
“Eventually we decided to build a whole new building – Dagon Centre 2,” he said.
“I don’t think customers really care whether a shopping centre is new or old. They care about location, good service and one-stop shopping,” he added.
However, spokespersons for several centres also said publicity, promotions, entertainment programs and seasonal sales were also important in attracting customers.
A spokesperson for MK Fashion, which has branches in shopping centres across several major cities, said it has been a strong year for the company.
“I think business has been good throughout 2011,” said Daw Ni Ni Myint, the general manager of MK fashion in Yankin township, which is also the company’s head office.
“I think that when a new shopping centre opens it hurts sales at the older venues for a while because everybody wants to go and have a look.
“But most shop owners know that the market settles down after a while,” she said.
However, bad maintenance and poor management deter both shop owners and customers, she added.
“Customers know what they want and if they move to other shopping centres or malls then the shop owners will follow.”