Landlords of Hong Kong shopping malls are looking for new and interesting solutions to retain shoppers in an ever-growing competitive retail market. One such solution is to combine entertainment with retailing to turn many of the city’s malls into lifestyle destinations. They do this in the hope of regaining relevance in an ecosystem where e-commerce is beginning to take centre stage.

So far, At least three malls in Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui are offering activities such as gaming, mini golf, indoor family entertainment along with their main retail offerings of shoes, apparels and toys.

“The retail market is changing. So who else and what else will draw traffic? What will attract more shoppers? Landlords realise that they can’t rely solely any more on mainland tourists, they have to look at something else so they offer more opportunities to entertainment-related establishments”, said Knight Frank’s senior director and head of retail services, Helen Mak.

This new strategy also serves as a form of insurance against the fickle patronage of mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers, who contribute as much as 5 per cent of Hong Kong’s retail sales, but are not consistent in terms of numbers.

Out of the 65.1 million tourists that arrived in Hong Kong in 2018, approximately 78 per cent were tourists from mainland China. Their arrivals and spending budget, subject to visa and capital control regulations by mainland Chinese officials, can make or break a Hong Kong mall.

“The proliferation of these e-sports centres creates alternative retail experience in an indoor setting. Hong Kong has long been hailed as a shopping and eating paradise. But entertainment is an area that has not seen significant breakthrough for a long time”, said senior director, advisory and transaction services for retail at CBRE Hong Kong,  Lawrence Wan. Gamers “are becoming a new genre of retail tenants and are beneficial to the retail industry development in Hong Kong”, he added.