malls in the Philippines

SM to open 5 new malls in 2024 as PH retail rebounds big

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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SM to open 5 new malls in 2024 as PH retail rebounds big

MALLING. SM Prime will open 5 new malls in 2024, three in Luzon, one in Visayas, and one in Mindanao.

SM handouts/J Center Mall X/Rappler file

SM is opening new malls in Laoag City, La Union, Laguna, Mandaue City, and Zamboanga City in 2024, as the Philippine retail industry cashes in on a growing middle class

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ retail king SM Group is opening five new malls in the Philippines in 2024, two of them in Ilocos, the home region of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

SM Supermalls president Steven Tan said on Monday, February 26, that they would be opening the following:

  • SM City in Laoag, Ilocos Norte
  • SM City in La Union province
  • SM premier mall near Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna
  • SM City in Mandaue City, Cebu
  • SM City in Zamboanga City.

“We will be opening in La Union [province], Laoag [City] as well. Zamboanga, we opened Zamboanga a couple of years ago [in December 2020]. It grew to be very, very successful, so we’re very bullish with the Zamboanga market. We’re opening a bigger one,” he told the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). 

SM broke ground for its second mall in the Zamboanga Peninsula in February 2023. 

The malls in Laoag City and in La Union province will be the first SM malls in these areas. A petition in 2016 asked that SM build a mall in La Union.  

Some of these malls will “blend with the [local] community,” such as the SM in the Philippines’ surfing capital in northern Luzon, La Union, which will have more “timber” and “beige” in its design, he said.

Nature, Outdoors, Sea
SURFING CAPITAL. Filipino surfer John Mark Takong wins in the short board men’s category at the 2024 La Union International Pro World Surf League on January 25, 2024. Angie de Silva/Rappler

“La Union would also be great because there will also be an area where you would create that same vibe as the surfing capital of the Philippines,” Tan said. 

The new one that will be near Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, will be a “premier mall with a one hectare, enclosed, airconditioned garden in the middle of the mall, where all the shops and restaurants will be looking into,” he said.

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SM bought the J Center Mall in Mandaue City in 2023 and is currently renovating it. A J Tower residences is also being built at the back of the mall.

Big rebound

The retail industry in the Philippines has rebounded big from the pandemic, with most retail businesses seeing high growth. 

“Immediately after the pandemic, people went back to the mall, flocked to the mall. Last year was a testament of that – we’re very happy with the numbers because we weren’t expecting it to be that good. We were expecting growth, definitely, but the result is very humbling, it really blew me,” Tan said. 

SM Prime Holdings had a net income of P40 billion in 2023, 33% higher than the P30 billion in 2022. Its mall business generated 56% of the company’s consolidated revenues. Mall rental income went up 24% to P61.3 billion in 2023 from P49.7 billion the year prior.

“The favorable result we achieved in 2023 reflects the strong support and trust from our tenants and customers despite the economic challenges encountered in 2023. We continue to see this growth momentum this year as we pursue our expansion plans in our key businesses, and explore new opportunities to expand our businesses,” SM Prime president Jeffrey Lim said on February 19.

As of October 2023, SM had 85 malls: 24 in Metro Manila, 47 in the rest of Luzon, 7 in the Visayas, and 7 in Mindanao. These malls had an average daily pedestrian count of 3.5 million. 

SM has other retail outlets such as SM Hypermarket, Savemore, Waltermart, Alfamart, and MindPro. 

SM’s mall expansion is now outside Metro Manila as regional growth in Luzon (excluding Metro Manila) and the Visayas in 2022 was faster than in the National Capital Region.

Other Philippine retail giants are Robinsons Retail Holdings Incorporated and Puregold Price Club Incorporated.

‘Dynamic economy’

According to the newly released Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) 2023 report by Kearney, a global management consulting firm, “a growing middle class, increasing urbanization, a young demographic, strong consumer demand, an attractive labor market, and increasing remittances make the Philippines one of the most dynamic economies” in the Asia Pacific. 

It noted that the Philippines’ poverty incidence declined from 23% in 2015 to 18% in 2021, and economic growth was at 7.6% in 2022

The GRDI said the Philippines’ retail market was worth $203 billion in 2022, and was projected to grow by 5% from 2017 to 2022 and reach $286 billion in 2027. 

The report said both the low-end retail enterprises, such as sari-sari (general merchandise) stores, as well as luxury brands are cashing in on the retail rebound. 

“Traditional Philippine stores, known as sari-sari stores, located at every street corner and deeply rooted in the nation’s culture, continue to increase, providing access to smaller packs and essential goods in residential areas,” the GRDI 2023 said. 

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Both government and private business are using various ways to help small retailers. Government, for instance, provides low-interest loans to small enterprises. 

“In November 2023, President Marcos asked TikTok to help mom-and-pop stores promote their products to millions of users, especially in rural areas,” the GRDI said. 

Billionaire Lucio Co’s supermarket chain Puregold’s Tindahan ni Aling Puring was cited in the report as one of the ways by which big business is assisting small retailers with big discounts.

The GRDI said Philippine supermarkets have also “shown good growth and continue to be a leading retail channel.”

“Major players such as Puregold Price Clubs, Robinson Retail, and SM Retail are expanding their footprint. Supermarkets are also strengthening their offerings through innovation. AllDay Supermarkets, for example, introduced ‘smart carts,’ which are equipped with digital display ads,” the report said. 

Philippine retailers have also adapted to the rise of ecommerce by offering “seamless shopping experience through a balance of physical and online sales.” 

Robinsons Department Store makes its items available on its GoCart online platform and engages Lazada and Shopee to increase its reach. Hypermarket operator SM Retail offers its omnichannel experience through its ShopSM online platform,” it said. 

Many retailers have also adopted the Buy Now Pay Later or BNPL, and this is also “driving demand in retail.” 

“Atome, a BNPL vendor in the country, launched in 2022, provides three-month interest-free payment options without a credit card. Such vendors have popped up and are partnering with leading retail players such as SM Retail and Zalora,” the GRDI said. 

The report noted that Malaysia’s home improvement retailer Mr. DIY has already opened multiple outlets throughout the country. Mr. DIY opened its 500th store in Panglao, Bohol, last February 16. 

SM to open 5 new malls in 2024 as PH retail rebounds big

Mr. DIY offers a wide selection of low-priced goods in categories such as hardware, household and furnishing, electrical, stationary, sports, toys, etc. It’s motto is “Always Low Prices.” 

The GRDI report said local retailers SM Retail, Puregold, and Robinsons Retail are also “planning to expand with multiple new outlets throughout the country.” 

With the Philippines’ rising per capita income and increasing number of “affluent Filipino consumers,” the GRDI report said more luxury brands have opened “multi-concept stores and luxury flagships.” 

“In December 2023, Prada announced a joint venture with Store Specialists Inc., which is involved in the retailing of leading luxury brands such as Hermes. Ayala, the Philippines’ premier mall chain, is enjoying a resurgence of luxury store openings, including Gucci, Tiffany & Co, and Cartier,” it said. 

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In addition, the GRDI report said “iconic global retailers such as Ikea, Bath & Body Works, Foot Locker, and Hugo Boss have entered the market and set up new stores,” while “other international retailers are on an expansion spree, with Levi’s opening its biggest store to date in July 2023.” –


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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.