Jakarta malls 'the perfect hangout'
Anissa S. Febrina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
What is it that people actually do when they head out for a day in the city's teeming malls?
If your immediate assumption is shell out some hard cash for a new all-that handbag or the latest gadget, then it may be time to get out of the house a bit more.
For a recent survey shows that 93 percent of respondents here do not have shopping on their mind when they go to the mall.
In fact, the ranks of the "recreational shopper" was the highest in the Asia-Pacific region -- where the average was 84 percent -- according to an ACNielsen 2005 online survey, presented at Thursday's Asian Shopping Center conference.
For Indonesians, the tendency can be attributed to that deeply entrenched cultural trait of nongkrong, or hanging out and taking it easy. Individuals or groups can be spotted killing time over coffee and a cigarette on almost every city sidewalk.
"If ACNielsen is right,...then traditional Asian (malls) models of selling merchandise may need realigning," property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle's Asia Pacific chief executive officer Peter Barge said.
Jakarta malls are already tapping into consumer wants, and have allocated more space for cafes, food courts and entertainment attractions in the past six years.
The proportion of mall space allocated for entertainment, food and beverage averages around 30 percent, while in some venues, like Cilandak Town Square, it is 40 percent.
"This trend is likely to continue as F&B is an important feature for Indonesians," LaSalle country head Spencer Roberts added.
The ongoing mixed-used project Grand Indonesia, for example, allocated two whole floors to satisfy the emerging consumer trend.
Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management president Joyce Yap recommended that mall managers create a sensorial experience and attractive food graphics for the comfort of recreational shoppers.
"It is better to do away with the cheap food court ambience," she said.
In Malaysia, sales of F&B ranked second (26 percent) in overall shopping center trades, just below revenue generated from the sale of fashion and accessories (42 percent).
Indonesia is likely to have a higher number, but no accurate data is currently available.
And Jakartans are likely to see more international franchise cafes and restaurants providing new in spots for them to while away their day.
"The development of more shopping malls integrated with apartments, hotels and offices will demand such entertainment and leisure venues extend their operating hours," Barge said.