Quarterly Report Qatar Q4 2020: Retail Market Overview
Retailers benefit from the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions towards year-end
Retailers benefitted from the full re-opening of retail malls in Q4 following six months of restrictions. While social distancing and other safety measures remained in place, footfall increased significantly towards the end of the year.
Demand for retail space in Qatar is dominated by food and beverage operators, and small businesses looking for kiosk space. Traditional fashion retailers have generally been reluctant to lease additional accommodation throughout 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic reduced footfall in malls and has accelerated the global trend towards on-line shopping. While some retail malls continue to perform well, the significant increase in supply since 2015 has resulted in an increase in vacancy in some malls as the market reached saturation point.
In early 2020 occupancy rates in Qatar’s main retail malls had fallen to an average of 83%. The enforced closure of retail malls due to the COVID-19 pandemic has increased vacancy rates further in Q4 as retailers struggled to deal with the interruption to their businesses.
Overall organised retail space in Qatar amounts to approximately 1.5 million sq m. There is currently about 1.3
million sq m of gross leasable retail space in Doha’s 18 largest destination malls. The proposed opening of new developments in 2020, including Doha Mall, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect supply to increase considerably in 2021. Approximately 575,000 sq m of new retail space is currently at various stages of construction and fit-out. Outside of the main organised retail malls, outdoor destinations including Souq Waqif, Katara Cultural Village, Medina Centrale, and La Croisette provide more than 230,000 sq m of leasable
space. Al Furjan markets continued to be rolled out in 2020. The markets are a government-led initiative to provide local retail conveniences within residential communities, offering discounted rents to small businesses.
Rents for typical ‘line’ retail stores in Doha main organised malls typically range from QAR 200 to QAR 350 per sq m month, with lower rates available for larger outlets. Retail malls have traditionally offered 5-year lease terms; however, tenants now seek greater flexibility given the challenging market conditions. While headline rents have not significantly decreased in many of the main malls throughout 2020, many retailers have been offered temporary discounts or rent holidays this year to help deal with the impact of the COVID-19 impact.
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